The report by the Ruwenzori Think Tank indicates that there are 650 children below the age of 5 years with stunted growth in Bundibugyo district. This is as a result of parents who prefer to sell off nutritious food crops and leave their children to starve or feed them on non nutritious foods.
This is contained in a research that was carried out by the Ruwenzori Think Tank on Food security. The study was meant to assess the situation concerning food security in districts in the Ruwenzori region.
The report titled ‘Food Security Eludes Households in the Rwenzori region’ which was released on Wednesday in Fort Portal indicates that there are 650 stunted children in Bundibugyo while Ntoroko district is next with 300 children.
According to the report, stunted growth among children in the district is as a result of parents selling nutritious food crops and the children are left to starve or are fed on food with no nutritious value.
The report cites households in Bundibugyo, who are abandoning food crops and focusing on growing cocoa, leading to shortage of food in homes.
Mark Mugabe, the lead researcher says that Bundibugyo is capable of growing several food crops like bananas, cassava, rice, beans and maize, but large chunks of land are dedicated to growing cocoa as a cash crop. He says that 90% of the people have devoted 95% of land to cocoa farming and have abandoned food crop farming.
Mugabe says that the shortage of food has forced some households to purchase food from the neighboring districts and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is expensive.
He says that food security in homes can be improved if only district authorities enact ordinances, for households to grow food crops besides coca and vanilla.
//Cue in: ‘it’s bad…
Cue out: “leave some land for food.”//
Betty Kajumba, a nutritionist at Karugutu health centre IV in Ntoroko district, says that districts should establish nutrition departments to sensitize households on the importance of nutritious foods.
Kajumba says that in districts like Ntoroko and Kabarole, there are large amounts and varieties of food that the people grow, but the communities lack adequate knowledge on appropriate nutrition for their children.
She says that nutritious foods help children in their early stages of growth.
Dr. Stephen Ssesanga, the medical superintendent, Bundibugyo hospital says that it receives an average of 25 cases of malnutrition a month, which are mostly severe. He says that there could be more cases, since some go unreported and that whenever they receive cases of malnutrition they advise the parents to prepare the right food for the children.
He says that the hospital and the district health department plan to launch a mass sensitization campaign aimed at eliminating hunger among children in the district and encourage families to feed their children on the nutritious foods before they are taken to the markets for sale.