Proper nutrition is the foundation of child survival, health and development. A well nourished child is able to grow and learn in order to live full and productive lives. However, in South Africa it is estimated that about one in three children are stunted due to inadequate nutrition, contributing to poor cognitive development, leading to difficulties in educational attainment and later loss of productivity in adulthood. Despite being classified as a middle-income country, South Africa has the highest inequality in the world, which is why we have high rates of stunting and other challenges of poverty, all of which are still experienced in areas like ours where the BI is located and works.
With our integrated approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD), we provide services to young children to reach zero stunting in our community. At our ECD centres each child is fed two hot nutritious meals a day and a snack (over 50,000 hot school meals every year). Additionally, every six months, our Nomakhayas (Home-Based Carers) provide growth monitoring, development milestone assessments, deworming and vitamin A provision both at our ECD centres and at home for children aged 0-3. If a child is not on track, the Nomakhaya refers them to our Bulungula Health Point, where our Registered Nurse will conduct a more in-depth evaluation and plan.
This year, parents at our ECD centres were all gifted with Christmas food parcels to take home with them to increase food security over the holiday season. The option for healthy meals and adequate access to health care for children enables them to reach their full potential.