Easy-to-make nutri-mix for children to combat malnutrition during COVID-19

Easy-to-make nutri-mix for children to combat malnutrition during COVID-19

Story by : WHH India
Written on : 13th July, 2020

“I was worried about the malnourished children in our project villages with the coronavirus pandemic making inroads to a new region daily. Most of the families whom we support are poor and marginalized. And to ensure that their children received adequate nutrition during this difficult time was my priority,” says Shuva Akhtar, a dedicated community resource person supported by FIVDB in Bangladesh. Shuva is part of an inspiring group of 30 individuals who are preparing and ensuring door-to-door distribution of nutri-mix – an instant easy-to-make nutritious food mix for children with malnutrition during COVID-19.

In Bangladesh, coronavirus crisis has enormously affected the poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities. Disrupted food systems and income loss in most places were ultimately preventing children from accessing nutritious diets, thereby putting them at high risk and threatening their health and well-being. Welthungerhilfe with its partners Anando and FIVDB aims to reach out to at least 1000 moderately acute malnourished (MAM) children who will receive their regular intake of nutri-mix despite the spread of the virus. These children are part of the project which aims to create nutrition smart villages to strengthen food and nutrition security amongst young children and women of reproductive age across 70 villages in Haor region and Chittagong Hills Tract regions.

Nutri-mix: a highly nutritious food mix for children from locally available food sources

To provide nutritious food to infants and children during the time of a pandemic was a critical and challenging task. It was important for Welthungerhilfe and its partners to provide nutrition solutions which were easy and convenient for the already marginalized families. Nutri-mix, a food mix developed from locally available food ingredients proved to be a successful way to reach out to the communities and ensure nutrition to the malnourished children.

With support from the local community volunteers and self-help groups (SHGs), both our partners Anando and FIVDB worked towards preparing 500 packets of nutri-mix during the pandemic. The initiative started in May 2020 under which the team supported in preparing nutri-mix packets of 500gm to reach out to all 1000 MAM children in the 70 project villages.

Community volunteers and members of SHGs preparing nutri mix packets for malnourished children.

The nutri-mix is a mixture of rice, pulses, groundnut and jaggery. For a packet of 500gm, 370gm of rice, 135gm of lentils and 90gm of groundnut are used. These ingredients are grinded and then mixed with 250gm of jaggary. Families with malnourished children are advised to feed the child around 80gm of the mix twice daily. The nutritive value per 100gm of the mix includes -354 cal, 14.6gm protein, 42mg calcium and 3.6mg iron.

Orientation, preparation and distribution

The project team identified potential and skilled community volunteers and women leader of the SHGs to prepare the nutria-mix packets using local ingredients and methods. Our partner teams also developed standard preparation and distribution guidelines to orient and trained the selected volunteers. Strict protocols were followed during the entire process such as maintaining hygiene, selecting correct ingredients in adequate quantities, following the correct preparation process, packaging, labelling and distribution procedures. Door-to-door home visits were undertaken to ensure maximum outreach.

“It was important for us to ensure continuity in the nutritional intake of the malnourished children during COVID-19. With guidance and training received from FIVDB team, I decided to prepare nutri-mix for malnourished children. It is one of the easiest and most nutritional recipes for children”, shared Shuva Akhter who has taken it as a challenge to ensure nutrition to the children in her village Chhoto Betham Village of Maghan Shiadhar Union, Mohonganj Upazila. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Shuva has been working 3-5 hours per day. She is also supporting all the 202 families and 100 children aged 0-5 years to raise awareness on COVID-19 and ensuring that personal hygiene and social distancing are being maintained and followed by the community.

Shuva Akhter on her way to distribute nutri mix to children in Chhoto Betham Village of Maghan Shiadhar Union, Mohonganj Upazila.

Till date, both the partners Anando and FIVDB have distributed nutri-mix to 450 households with MAM children in 25 villages by engaging 19 community volunteers/CSP and 11 women leaders of SHGs.

“As a community volunteer I along with two SHG leaders prepare nutrimix in my house and package and label it. I then distribute these packets to the families with malnourished children. There are around 74 malnourished children in my village. I walk 2-3 kms within my village and support all the 462 families by raising awareness on COVID-19 issues, counsel mothers on nutrition and hygiene practices. While I am ensuring that malnourished children do not fall through the cracks during the pandemic, I am also supporting my own family during this difficult time”, says Varoti Chakma of Shantipur village at Kobakhali Union under Dighinala Upazila, supported by Anando. Working as community volunteer for 6-7 days, Varoti earns around BDT 2,600-3,000 per month. 

Varoti Chakma of Shantipur village following all prescribed hygiene protocols while preparing nutri mix for malnourished children.

Due to their commitment to ensure nutrition despite the pandemic, Shuva Akhter and Varoti Chakma has become role models championing the cause of ‘nutrition’ in their villages and a source of inspiration for others. All the mothers are now practicing and feeding their children nutri-mix. They are also trying to prepare it at their household levels. Welthungerhilfe’s partners Anando and FIVDB are not only imparting knowledge and raising awareness on how to protect oneself from COVID 19 but are also cooking nutritious recipes such as nutri-mix and supplying cooked meals for malnourished children.  

The above efforts are part of Welthungerhilfe’s ‘Regional programme for promoting a multisectoral approach for Nutrition Smart Villages in Bangladesh’ supported by  the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in collaboration with FIVDB and Anando.

With inputs received from partners.