The effects of malnutrition during the first critical 1,000 days of a child’s life (starting from conception) can actually result in irreversible damage to a child’s physical and mental development. This is why WFP’s nutrition program -- implemented with various government and non-government partners -- is particularly targeted towards young children and breastfeeding mothers.
Photo credit: WFP/Philipp Herzog
“I was really worried about the health of my child Arbaiya. She used to get sick all the time, but thanks to the nutritional support she receives at the health center, my mind is now at ease,” says Halima Silongan, a 38 year old mother of six from Maguindanao province, Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
Poverty and instability brought about by the on-going conflict between the separatist rebels and government as well as clan feuding make it hard for formerly displaced people such as Halima to provide their children with proper nutrition. And effects of malnutrition during the first critical 1,000 days of a child’s life (starting from conception) can actually result in irreversible damage to a child’s physical and mental development.
For this reason, WFP’s nutrition work is particularly targeted towards young children and breastfeeding mothers. Halima and other women like her are supported through WFP’s nutrition program implemented in close cooperation with the Department of Health, Local Government Units, UNICEF, NGOs Save the Children, and Community and Family Services International.
Every week, the mothers are required to visit a rural health centre in order to monitor the growth and development of their children and are given a fortified ready-to-use food designed to be consumed in small quantities, as a supplement to the kids’ regular diet. Since malnutrition is not only about poor food intake, WFP and its partners also tackle other concerns, such as inadequate access to basic health services and inappropriate feeding and caring practices. Mothers also attend weekly classes on basic nutrition, health education, and hygiene, among other things.
“After two weeks in the program, I was already able to see improvements in Arbaiya’s weight,” Halima highlights.