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Teaching parents how to raise healthy, nourished children in Mozambique

When Artemisa, a mother of 8 living in rural Mozambique, gave birth to her daughter Nelia, she imagined her new baby would grow healthy and strong. She watched as other children began crawling, walking and talking. But Nelia couldn’t put on weight; she spoke very few words, and her hair didn’t grow.

“Nelia was not developing or growing as she should,” explained Artemisa. “Still at the age of 3 she couldn’t even walk or talk. I did not know what was wrong.”

Artemisa soon discovered her daughter was malnourished. In Mozambique, almost 1 in 2 children under the age of 5 is undernourished. A diet lacking sufficient nutrients leads to high mortality rates in young children like Nelia. For most children in Mozambique, malnutrition is a result of inadequate farming, a child not being breastfed, or because parents lack awareness of malnutrition and its dangers.

A mother sits with her 2 daughters

Nelia with her mother, Artemisa, and youngest sister Marlene.

How to grow big, healthy and strong

To combat high rates of malnutrition in children, Plan began the Agriculture and Nutrition project for families in Mozambique. The project aimed to help strengthen the livelihoods of parents with children, and to teach the importance of food security. Community members were organized into farming associations where they learned:

  • Efficient farming techniques to improve their crops at home.
  • How to build or improve their irrigation systems.
  • Nutrition guidelines and tips to prepare nutritious meals.

When she got wind of the project, Artemisa was keen to get involved. She knew Nelia wasn’t developing like a properly nourished children should, and she feared the permanent damage that malnutrition could cause her daughter.

Seeing results and reaching milestones

Young girl eating an orange.

Thanks to the Plan-supported project, Nelia, 5, has recovered from malnutrition and her mother is attending regular nutrition training.

During her training, Artemisa realized she wasn’t providing Nelia with the proper nutrients to help her grow strong. Artemisa began cooking diverse food, packed full of nutrients, and immediately, she noticed a change in Nelia.

“Only after a month Nelia’s health had improved,” she explained. “She was able to take her first steps and her hair finally started to grow. After a few more months, her skin looked better, she started to talk and I could see that she was learning and developing.”

Today, Nelia is 5 years old. She’s a happy, playful little girl, and she loves to eat – a lot! Since joining the farmer’s association, Artemisa has welcomed another baby girl, and she’s confident she will raise her to be healthy and nourished, just like Nelia is today.

You can help us keep children and their families healthy.