ISMP and EU-ACT: Combating malnutrition through financial empowerment for women.

The International Society of Media in Public Health, (ISMPH) has attributed the growing malnutrition among under-five children in Nigeria to poverty, resulting from low earning capacities of the parents of these children, especially mothers.

Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo made this known while interacting with newsmen in Abuja at the 3-day training on production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer, where he also explained that the discovery has informed the decision to checkmate the role of poverty in driving malnutrition.

In a bid to tackle the problem of malnutrition by solving the poverty puzzle, ISMPH through support from the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, (EU-ACT) embarked on skill acquisition training for women in Barangoni, a community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).

Every morning of each day of the training, the women of Barangoni gather enthusiastically to learn how to convert materials they considered as waste into useful products that can be used in their homes, as well as sold to generate income for their households.

Read: How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

Among the materials used were groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, sawdust, starch or gum Arabic as binders and the binding machine which is the only tool that is not sourced from daily living.

The end products are Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer. Charcoal briquette is smokeless charcoal with same cooking time cooking gas – aside home use, it can be sold to generate income; similarly, the Organic Fertilizer can be used to improve crop yield for the women since Barangoni is an agrarian community.

Narrating how this knowledge can be helpful to the women, the Manager, Expedient Global Vision, Hassan Mustapha who is the lead trainer explained that process is less stressful and easy to understand.

Mustapha also revealed that one woman can make up to 3500 naira from every 30 kilogrammes of Charcoal briquettes she produces.

“We are here to train people, especially the females on how to gain from skill acquisition. We are training on two different ways on how to utilize their waste products to be wealth briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

“Charcoal Briquette is formed from all things that we normally take as waste in our society like groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, and sawdust. These are some of the things that we merge together to make charcoal.

You carbonize them by removing the unused smoke from the original source, then you use the remaining part which is not allowed to burn into ashes. After you merge everything, you grind it so that it now becomes powder then you mix it with the binder, after which you now use the binder machine either automated or manual. The product is left to dry before packaging.

“The charcoal briquette helps to check deforestation because people won’t cut down trees again to make charcoal and can help generate foreign exchange for the country if it is invested in. It is simple to produce and use and it is smokeless, also fast in cooking like gas.

“So women can use it at home and also produce to sell making plenty of profit because the materials are sourced from around the community. If a woman produces a 30kg of charcoal briquette she can sell it for N3500.”

Read: Did you know that Nigeria has highest stunting figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

The first phase of the programme involves training of thirty women and there are plans to scale-up subsequently, says Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo.

Off-takers have already been engaged to buy off these products, as soon as the women are done with production, as availability of market will drive production.

“The programme aims to see how we can curb malnutrition in the FCT by training and empowering women on how to produce organic fertiliser and other products so that they can have a means of survival because we have noticed that one of the problems causing malnutrition is poverty.

“Most of them do not have the means to take care of their nutritional needs so we decided that look, we’re going to train women – poorest of the poorest – and women who their children are malnourished.

“We also have off-takers who will be buying the products immediately they produce and we will also avail them the opportunity to market these products on radio stations and television stations.”

For the Chief of Barangoni Community, Danlami Nana, the initiative is noble and needs to be sustained.

“This training that they are doing for my people – I’m happy because when I saw this lady and she came to my place, introduced herself and told me that she will invite my people to come and get this training, I’m happy. Whereby that I am happy with my people is that they came out to come and receive this training on liquid fertiliser and also the other things.

Read: IHVN’s ANRiN programme improving nutrition in Kano state.

“This Barangoni we will benefit it, because I have already said that we are the farmers and when we farm something the thing will germinate – it will not grow quickly because it does not have fertiliser – but if community members are trained like this we will not have to go to any company to buy fertilizer again.”

It is hoped that the Initiative by EU-ACT and ISMPH will empower women financially so that they can give their children improved diets to help eliminate malnutrition.

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