SBCC tools and materials development workshop for food fortification underway
By Cherno Omar Bobb
The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) through The Gambia Agriculture and Food Security (GAFSP) and DSM on Monday began a 5 day Social and Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) Toots and Materials Development Workshop on Food Fortification at ChildFund Lodge in Bwiam, West Coast Region.
Dr. Amat Bah, Executive Director for the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) said when they started the salt iodization programme only 9 percent of households were consuming iodized salt but noted that now over 70 percent of households consume iodized salt.
However, he said where they have a problem is the quality of the iodized salt, saying they still need to do more to ensure that households consume adequately iodized salt.
He pointed out that if 90 percent of households are consuming adequately iodized salt then we will begin to eradicate iodine deficiency disorders, adding that together they have almost reached that level.
Dr. Bah said anemia is the biggest nutritional deficiency in the world but said countries has managed to bring it under control by fortifying food important with iron.
Malang N. Fofana, the Deputy Executive Director said the workshop is organized to review the SBCC materials with a view to align it with the food and bio fortification that they are embarking on.
He stated that they have done a lot of work in terms of food fortification in the country but rice being one of the key stable foods also needs to be included in foods being fortified.
He recalled that the last survey done indicated that almost all households eat rice on daily basis in the country, noting that if we are able to have rice fortified with micronutrients it will not only ensure access to the food fortificants and greatly have an impact on reducing deficiencies we have in the country.
Kawsu Barrow, M & E Officer for The Gambia Agriculture and Food Security (GAFSP) said the development of the tools and materials will contribute in improving food and nutrition security at household and community level; preventing and controlling micronutrient malnutrition among the population through increased intake of iodized salt, eliminate Vitamin A deficiency and promote fortification and bio-fortified crops and increased SBCC.
He added that the project intervention will contribute to putting the future of the country on the right track as the significance of SBCC and fortification of our crops will help improve our communities in the nutritional status as well as their production for an increase in their household incomes.
Dawda Samba, Crisis Response and Nutrition Officer for World Food Programme said as a country we have made significant gains in reducing malnutrition but current surveys and assessments show that as a result of shocks, Covid-19 pandemic, increase food crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war the gains made are beginning to be reversed.
He said we therefore need to do more because malnutrition is a public health concern. Households and individuals must be supported within formation as to what they can do at their own household level to be able to augment and supplement assistance given to them, he also said.
Mr. Samba said they have identified 7 foods they think will be able to fight micronutrients in-deficiencies using the initiative of the household. “The best food is what we grow and have within our households,” he said.