Liberia: Massive Nutritional Support for Children Under 5

Monrovia — Children under five in two counties of Liberia that were recently researched to be worst hit by malnutrition will now benefit from a four-year multisector response to improve nutritional services and access. The intervention will be implemented in Rural Montserrado and Grand Bassa Counties by the Liberia WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) Consortium with funding valued at €4.25 Million from the Government of Ireland through Irish Aid. A total of 87,168 beneficiaries (40,114 male and 47,054 female) are targeted in more than 170 communities in the two counties.

Launched in Monrovia on Thursday, April 8, 2021, the project is keen on the sustainable reduction of chronic malnutrition in the selected communities. This new intervention has an approach of contributing to the improvement of access to safe, diverse, and nutritious food, and increase sustainable access to and use of safe water, sanitation, environmental hygiene practices. Other approaches are tailored at the improvement of communities' access to quality health services by strengthening networks among the County Health Workers and their capacities. Through monitoring, evaluating, and documenting intervention, the project also seeks to reinforce the evidence base for stunting prevention. Women and children under five years of age with low access to proper nutrition, water, and hygiene services are mainly targeted. However, based on their special needs and peculiar roles while providing childcare services, vulnerable caregivers and community members, community-based health workers, informer county-based health workers like the traditional healers are also priority beneficiaries.

The ceremony was graced by key representatives from the development community including the Irish and French Embassies, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Internal Affairs of Liberia as well as civil society organizations.

Considering as timely and relevant, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Irish Embassy in Liberia, Kate O' Donnell said every component of the intervention is informed by research. "There was a barrier analysis which looked at six key behaviors (exclusive breastfeeding, minimum dietary diversity, hand washing, use of modern family planning, latrine use, and safe water storage) to understand what barriers are needed to be overcome to adopt such behaviors"- Kate.

Partners of the LWC includes Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, and Water Aid. They pledged to better coordinate and fully execute their respective tasks. Carmen Nechita, Interim Country Representative of Action Against Hunger informed that the project will be implemented in stages, seeing Community, Household, and Individual Engagements, and Progress Review to happen in the first, second, third, and fourth years of the project, respectively. For Water Aid Liberia Country Director, Chuchu Selma, investing in community-based institutions and direct engagement with targeted beneficiaries will generate more grassroots results. Dave Smith, Country Director of Concern Worldwide, wants the consortium to tap on skills reserved by each LWC partner. The Coordinator of the Liberia WASH Media Network, Augustine Myers, praised the support to the media by the LWC through WaterAid Liberia, listing capacity building, budgetary, and technical supports - as a result, a weekly radio program airs to inform the public on WASH and Nutrition.

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