Combining education and provision of nutritious food to tackle malnutrition in Burkina Faso

It is warm and dusty in Diépergou, a village located about 15 kilometers from Bogandé in the eastern region of Burkina Faso. Habibata Thiombiano is nursing Youmanli, her 10-month old daughter, in the family courtyard. “I’m 45-years-old and Youmanli is my eighth child. If you had come here five months ago, you would have seen my daughter in a different state. She would nurse at night, but when she didn’t get enough milk, she would cry and cry, and I wasn’t able to get any sleep. She started to have diarrhea and lose so much weight that we started to lose hope," says Habibata.

"You see, I haven’t been able to produce enough milk for her since she was born. We just don’t have enough food. I was screened at my village’s health clinic three times and found out I was malnourished,” explains Habibata.

A few months before our encounter, a team of WFP and local NGO staff as well as the head nurse in Fada headed for Diépergou to identify children aged 6 to 23 months in the area. They were targeting children for the Blanket Feeding Programme, which provides fortified, nutritious food to all children aged 6 to 23 months as well as pregnant and nursing women in an effort to tackle malnutrition.

At the time, Youmanli was eight months old and eligible to participate in the programme. Habibata was also enrolled in a programme led by a local NGO aimed at providing education on nutrition and hygiene. Habibata received three rations of 12 kilograms of Super Cereal Plus for Youmanli. She also participated in sensitizations sessions to learn about better eating habits not only for her children, but for her whole family. The sessions showed participants how to use local foods available at different times of the year to increase the nutritional value of their meals.

“Since we have begun participating in the program, I’ve improved my diet. I now have enough milk for my daughter. In addition to regular family meals, I make enriched porridge from the Super Cereal I received; my daughter eats it three times a day. After a short time, everyone noticed that my daughter and I had changed,” confides happily Habibata (pictured below with her baby).

At 10 months, Youmanli is full of energy. She is a smiling, happy baby. “She has almost doubled her weight in three months, and she is no longer sick all the time. I noticed that she has begun growing normally. I don’t need to be with her all the time anymore, and I’m able to concentrate on other things. My only hope is that my daughter will be able to celebrate her first birthday in good health.”

Habibata is one of the thousands of moms who has benefitted from this programme, together with her daughter, thanks to USAID Food for Peace's support of WFP's work in Burkina Faso.

Photos and text by: Krystle Nanema, WFP Burkina Faso