A Care Group model is a community-based behavior change strategy whereby social and behavior changes are promoted through supported peer-to-peer (mostly mother-to-mother) knowledge sharing.
The goal is to promote improved infant nutrition, improve hygiene and increase the number of children who are fully exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
PanAfricare spearheaded the formation of community care groups in Katilu and Turkwel wards in Turkana County.
In Kanaodon Susan Nakado, a Community Health Volunteer is hosting a care group meeting at Kanaodon Dispensary in Turkana South Sub-County.
Today she will be taking them through a cooking demonstration and later a brief session on breastfeeding best practices.
She has scheduled today’s session to coincide with the vegetable harvest from the vertical conical gardens also set at the health facility. The women Susan expects are her neighbors and of different age groups.
The group manages the 15 vertical gardens which provide them with vegetables for their families. The group has also managed to make some savings out of the sale of surplus vegetables harvested from the garden.
Meetings like today provide a great opportunity for Susan to follow up on identified pregnant and lactating women and to share information on health and nutrition.
“It is appropriate for us to conduct the cooking demonstration because I can practically show the process of correctly cooking vegetables straight from the farm all the way to serving.” Says Susan.
She adds that being a pastoralist community, most people pay less attention to vegetables despite the fact that their nutritional values are important and required by the body.
She says the drought has affected the supply of food and especially vegetables to her village.
These gardens are a gift to the women here. Everything is dying as a result of the drought. In such a desperate situation we are grateful that we have such a garden.”
As the meeting goes on, Susan demonstrates and explains the importance of washing vegetables, chopping pieces, and how long vegetables should be cooked.
After the cooking demonstration, the meeting ends when the group has gone through a lesson on complementary feeding for children aged 6-23 months.
Illustrative dialogue cards containing different agri-nutrition messages, the women are able to follow and grasp what Susan is teaching.
Susan says in her teachings, she pays special attention to lactating and pregnant women because their nutritional needs include that of their babies.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, the drought and hunger situation in Turkana County will soon enter the emergency phase if no action is taken.
Malnutrition rates in the county are rising mostly affecting children and women.
Care groups and conical gardens provide a lifeline to affected communities, especially during such periods of extended drought.
PanAfricare has supported the formation of community care groups and the establishment of 100 vertical gardens equipped with drip irrigation systems to support women in Katilu and Turkwel wards.