Securing a Balanced and Healthy Diet for Millions

SEWOH has instituted a wide range of successful measures contributing greatly to improved global food security – from training for smallholders on cultivation, storing and processing fruits and vegetables, to educational programmes for mothers and pregnant women on healthy nutrition for children and good hygiene practices, to cooperating with local health centres to prevent diseases and improve access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. Further social security measures also ensure that particularly vulnerable groups get access to foods with high nutritional value. Two billion people around the world suffer from malnutrition. The cost of this hidden form of hunger – chronic deficiencies in important micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals – is especially detrimental to pregnant women, mothers and children aged two or younger. In the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, a lack of micro-nutrients can hamper growth and mental development. Conversely, the number of obese adults and children is increasing around the world. This form of over-nourishment is causing a rise in nutrition-related illnesses like diabetes. Malnourishment and unhealthy diets have far-reaching consequences – not only for individuals, but for entire national economies. Ensuring better diets for children and women represents an investment in the future.


Social workers teach nutrition and hygiene

To effect lasting improvements in the nutritional and hygiene habits of women of childbearing age and their small children, GIZ on behalf of BMZ supports a participatory nutritional education programme. In two districts of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, over 3,000 social workers of the Department of Women and Child Development have undergone intensive training in good educational practices for nutrition and hygiene. The training follows the comprehensive Nutrition-Participatory Learning and Action approach which promotes changes in day-to-day actions. Topics include locally available food varieties and child nourishment. The women also learn how to prepare quality food and plant house gardens, allowing them to prepare balanced meals to feed their families. To date, 144,000 women and 30,000 small children have benefitted from the knowledge and skills the social workers teach them. Together with the partner organisation, GIZ compiled 40 hours of online training for all of Madhya Pradesh to systematically increase social workers’ nutritional know-how and counselling skills. To date, 25,000 participants have started the course, more than 7,000 have already completed it. In a further pilot project, 20 women’s self-help groups planted 20 community gardens, where fruits and vegetables could be cultivated year-round. The women used these gardens even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and healthy food is now more readily available. Thanks to paid work in the community gardens and the sale of surplus vegetables, the women were able to generate an additional source of revenue. In the coming years, the number of gardens will rise from 20 to 500.


House gardens: food supply and tool for emancipation

In Benin, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation, MISEREOR, works with the local non-governmental organisation Centre Béninois pour l’Environnement et le Développement Économique et Social (CEBEDES) to promote integrated house gardens for improved food security. For a year, participants tend to an agroecological garden and learn tried-and-tested practices including composting and rain water harvesting for irrigation. Apart from iron-rich leaf vegetables, the main crop grown in these gardens, each course group selects at least one type of animal for breeding; mostly poultry, giant African snails or catfish. After completing their training, the participating women receive assistance in growing their own gardens. The programme helped participants in three rural communes plant 960 individual gardens and 70 training gardens over the course of three years, afrom which over 1,000 producers now benefit.


Participant Sébastienne Tolokin talks about what she achieved thanks to the programme:

“Last year, I took part in a course at the training garden in Lokossa in the community of Ouessè. We used the harvest from the garden to give cooking presentations to the mothers of the village children and to feed course participants’ households. We sold some of the harvest to assist fellow participants in growing their own gardens. After the course, I myself planted 15 vegetable beds and grew a variety of vegetables. With the harvest from my garden, I prepare a variety of nutritious meals for my family, and sometimes I have enough left over to sell. I can now contribute to the family income, so we can invest in our children’s education, in our health and to buy other staple foods. Tending to the garden is an excellent pursuit. It has improved both the quality and the amount of food I have available to feed my family and has made me more content.”


Better nutrition gives strength in times of crisis

In Burundi, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) works with SEWOH to help people cope better with the consequences of crises and conflicts. Preventing chronic malnutrition is especially important to this end. To ensure adequate nutrition for children and women, WFP distributes specialized foods that are enriched with nutrients. With considerable success: in 2020 alone, the measure reached 46,000 children aged between 6 and 23 months and 56,000 pregnant and nursing women in the province of Kirundo in northern Burundi. The COVID-19 pandemic added to the challenges facing Burundi. Reacting to the crisis, WFP adjusted its measures and, partnering with World Vision, drafted development plans for affected households in the capital Gitega and the provincial town of Karusi. These plans helped identify the needs of affected people in these cities and design and implement tailor-made activities. For example, over 31,700 cubic metres of compost were produced, about 2,700 kitchen gardens were planted, more than 723,000 tree saplings were grown and nearly 6,000 hand washing stations were set up.

Fisheries with Added Value

Fish carries enormous potential for food security. Fish protein currently covers 17 per cent of the global need for animal protein. In some countries in the southern hemisphere, the proportion is significantly higher. For people in SEWOH partner countries, fish is crucial for survival in two respects: as a source of protein and nutrients and as a foundation for employment and making a living. Fish and aquaculture provide a livelihood, now in jeopardy, for close to 600 million people worldwide. 34 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are considered overfished, and 60 per cent exploited to the limits of sustainability. However, demand for fish is growing globally due to an increasing population and higher living standards. SEWOH promotes sustainable use of fish resources, to increase availability of sustainably produced fish, reduce illegal fishing and preserve fish populations as a natural resource – all with considerable success. To date, availability of sustainably produced fish has doubled in local markets.


At least 9,5 million people are better nourished.


This equals thrice the population of Berlin.