Improving nutrition in Kenya

Louisa Handley, Company Nutritionist at innocent drinks, is our latest guest blogger and recently returned from Western Kenya where she visited our Improving Nutrition and Livelihoods for Children and Mothers Project. Here is what Louisa took away from her trip.

It was clear from the moment I arrived in Western Kenya that Titus and his team are very passionate about their work. The Improving Nutrition and Livelihoods for Children and Mothers in Western Kenya Project is in its second year of three, supporting over 18,000 people in the region.

I was there to identify the improvements to the diets of people in these communities, and to see how they are starting to be able to create balanced, nutritious meals that improve their health. As an enthusiastic nutritionist, I was keen to identify how I could support the work further. I’m looking to create a tool that can be used by nutrition support groups, and passed on to the communities beyond.

These communities gave me such unforgettably warm welcomes and at the Ojamii Kifunguo ya Maisha self-help group, one of their members, Jane, gave me a tour of her garden. She was very proud to show me around her impressive smallholding.

Growing vegetables and spreading knowledge

Jane spoke to me with such gratitude because Send a Cow gives her, and everyone in her group, real hope. Through another successful family farmer who had worked with the charity, she had been passed on a cow, and had lots of different fruit and vegetables growing such as kale, spinach, spring onions, bananas and paw paws. Jane showed me great examples of mandala and keyhole gardens, which are boosting nutrition.

Louisa Handley, during her trip to Western Kenya

I was also fortunate to meet with; many nutrition support groups, a group management committee, a community water council, government nutritionists from the Ministry of Health, peer farmer trainers, community health volunteers and visit local food markets. These experiences during my month in Kenya really helped me to understand nutrition from different angles.

Even though the Send a Cow project has only been running for 18 months, I can already clearly see the impact. All of the groups were aware of the importance of nutrition, and many already knew about the Kenyan food pyramid and the benefits of a balanced diet.

Elizabeth, one of the other members of the same self-help group, proudly showed me her “Victorious” products she sells: delicious peanut butter, sesame butter and flour.  She named her business “Victorious”, as this was how she felt upon starting her own enterprise.

At Send a Cow, integrity, stewardship and accountability shine through in all the staff and with their support, families in Western Kenya can grow enough food, improve their nutrition, and ultimately change their lives, and those of their children.

A holistic approach

It was clear that all of the communities really supported each other and identified passionately with Send a Cow’s approach to sustainable organic agriculture. The nutrition knowledge of both Peer Farmers and Community Health Volunteers is impressive. The community health volunteers said that until they started working with Send a Cow they didn’t link health with the crops they could grow on their land. Now they understand that food, nutrition and health, are all interlinked and together they are transformational.

Reflecting on Send a Cow’s journey, which has helped two million people across rural Africa to grow their own futures, is truly inspirational. Their values really resonated with me from the get go. They are similar to ours at innocent and when people live and breathe an organisation’s values, it becomes infectious.

This visit was sponsored and organised by the innocent foundation.

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