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  • on 22.07.2015
  • at 03:46 PM
  • by Naomi Cohen

When abundance of food does not reduce malnutrition 0

From a relatively dry Kampala to an evergreen western Uganda, the journey to Mbarara, Kabale and Kisoro during the rains of early June was slippery yet satisfying.

Travelling through the hills of Mbarara where matooke grows in abundance to those of Kisoro where irish potatoes are grown in many homesteads, one wonders why there are stories of malnutrition.

People in these areas should not, under normal circumstances, be suffering from malnutrition.

Causes of malnutrition
According to Moses Mutabazi, the Kisoro District nutrition specialist, one of the causes of malnutrition in south western Uganda is selling off all the foodstuffs grown by families.

“Since we do not have cash crops, households sell the food crops. You can find a family harvesting up to 40 bags of Irish potatoes but selling them off and remaining with nothing. When this happens, they end up without food to eat,” Mutabazi explains.

Globally, malnutrition is mainly caused by the lack of access to highly nutritious foods in addition to high food prices which limit access to food.

However, none of these apply to western Uganda. Unlike some dry regions where food can hardly be grown, the west has fertile soils and favourable climate to allow for the growing of various foods.

Emily Tindimweba, the nursing officer in-charge of the paediatric ward at Kabale hospital cites ignorance as one of the causes of malnutrition in the region.

In addition, Hope Hamibana, Kisoro District nutrition focal person and the principal education officer, says many people do not understand a balanced diet.

“People think that eating meat, drinking milk and doing away with vegetables is having a balanced diet. Many people do not know that the foods regularly eaten at home can be prepared well to make a balanced diet,” Habimana explains.

Poor family planning and gender-based violence were also cited as major causes of malnutrition.

Implications of malnutrition on health
According to the 2011-2016 Nutrition Action Plan, the deficiencies most associated with malnutrition include Vitamin A deficiency, which affects one out of five young children and women of reproductive age.

It results into impaired resistance to infection and, consequently, higher levels of illness and mortality, as well as potentially severe eye problems.

Continue reading on the Daily Monitor

by Sandra Janet Birungi

Photo Credit: The Daily Monitor (A local farmer shows off some of the vegetables grown in her homestead. Vegetables are an important part of the diet.)

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