The Orugali Fests: Curbing Malnutrition in Kabarole
By Regina Kayoyo
HIVOS together with her Sustainable Diets for All partners in Uganda have teamed up to promote diets that are diverse, greener, healthier, fairer and more sustainable by influencing practices, markets, government policies and international institutions to promote more sustainable food production and healthy diets.
In the Western part of Uganda, Hivos partner, Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), is seeking to change the attitude and feeding practices among low income communities and households through the community food fest dubbed “Orugali Fest. This is held at household level where 20-50 people from the community attend. Diverse and nutritious foods are prepared by a host family for every-one in attendance to consume. This group also uses traditional cooking methods that preserve the food’s nutritious value and ensure that the food is safe.
After the meal, discussions are held on the importance of food diversity and food choices and what it means for healthy living. Families are reminded of how possible and important it is to eat different nutritious food even with low incomes. Other topics explored include re-generating soil fertility, vegetable growing, water and sanitation including the role of leadership in improving the local food system.
The Ministry of Health indicator survey recently ranked Kabarole district as one of the districts with many cases of malnutrition accounting for over 65% cases of stunted growth and 53% cases of anemia among the children aged between 6 months and 4 years.
Currently malnutrition stands at 41.6% in Kabarole higher than the national rate of 35%. According to the report the Malnutrition rates could have doubled, especially during the last few years because of the poor eating habits in most families.
In 2015, The Cost of Hunger in Africa” study revealed that Uganda loses shillings 1.8 trillion in a single year due to poor nutrition.
Nutrition education for our citizens through community festivals like the Orugali will help to reduce the health burden as sensitization platforms to value our tradition foods and ways of cooking them. These Orugali fests as they are known are gradually changing mindsets and feeding practices among rural households and communities in Kabarole District. KRC is also taking this model and food discussions to national level spaces within the policy making cycle with the expectation that it can be replicated in other regions of Uganda.