Local NGO on Massive Campaign to Recruit Adolescent Nutrition Champions

RURAL Enterprise Trust of Zimbabwe (RETZ) has embarked on a rigorous drive to recruit nutrition champions in both single sex and mixed schools around the country as a means of strengthening their voice and participation in nutrition advocacy.

By Michael Gwarisa

This initiative which is a youth led project is set to support adolescents to participate in a campaign dubbed, “Kick Out Stunting Campaign.” In Harare, Churchill Boys High school in which has a total of 1600 students is amongst one of the first beneficiaries from the project which is set to be taken to other parts of the country in foreseeable future.

In an interview with HealthTimes, RETZD Coordinator, Cuthbert Mukora said the project would have strengthened the voices and participation of thousands of schools children by end of 2020.

This project seeks to see an increased number of influential active youth advocates for nutrition from 2 to 50 in the country. Increasing the network of Youth advocates for nutrition will ensure youth voices become an incredibly powerful force for bringing about positive changes in nutrition.

“It also seeks to see an increased number of youths actively participating in youth led campaign activities and their participation in providing possible solutions to the current malnutrition challenges being faced by children in Zimbabwe and beyond. Adolescents understand young people’s needs better than anyone else and getting them involved in decision-making processes is vital,” said Mukora.

He added that the project would significantly change the manner in which the adolescents engage and relate to nutrition.

“Activities of this project will empower adolescents to effectively communicate their opinions on nutrition through dialogue, debates, poems and song to policy makers, nutrition stakeholders, journalists and peers. In addition, it will support adolescents’ meaningful, safe and appropriate participation in nutrition processes as a way of ensuring effective engagement of youths by government, policy makers and civic society.

The project will facilitate platforms that will ensure youths are listened to and express their opinions and thoughts on nutrition issues.”

The project is also aimed at empowering not less than 15 teachers and 50 youth advocates for nutrition. A total of eight Health and wellness sessions will be conducted at schools through health clubs. The project will also create platforms for youth advocates to take the lead in rolling out of a campaign dubbed “Kick out Stunting Campaign.” Youth voices will be heard through different mediums namely radio, television and print.

This project will be youth led, and advocates for nutrition in the country and have had opportunities to be trained on nutrition advocacy were consulted at the formulation stage of this project.

Meanwhile, Nutrition Advocate, Webster Makombe said engaging young people especially boys from a young age was step the first step towards attaining zero stunting and malnutrition in the future since boys eventually grow to become men and will be household heads.

Nutrition Advocate Webster Makombe addresses pupils at Churchill Boys High in Harare

“Most of the measures that are being taken to combat malnutrition or hunger are usually mitigate whereby people try to balance things as they are now but by looking at boys and teaching about the importance of nutrition, breastfeeding and good diet, we are looking at things from a preventative perspective.

“We are saying like when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come to an end in 2030, what would have been achieved and what kind of adults would we have then that’s why we are looking at the boys now to see how best they can get involved in the issues of nutrition, breastfeeding and nutrition financing from a household levels,” said Makombe.

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