DR Congo

DRC: Food security and nutrition rehabilitation of malnourished and AIDS orphaned children of Kinshasa

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The Presbyterian Church of Kinshasa (CPK) has had a leading role in combating malnutrition and AIDS in Kinshasa for the last fifteen years and based on their experience, have expanded their role to address these problems in a more comprehensive way. CPK is rehabilitating thousands of malnourished children every month by working with families at their homes to help them grow their own food, supporting families affected by AIDS and preventing AIDS infection to newborns.

Background

In the late 1980's the CPK was running a nutrition rehabilitation program in its three clinics and had a citywide program for AIDS education in it churches, schools and clinics. Over the years each of these programs evolved to be more effective at resolving or preventing the problems they were addressing.

By the early 1990's it was obvious from the high return rate of children into the nutrition rehabilitation program that relying solely on feeding programs to solve the problem of malnutrition was not effective. Research was done in local practices for producing food in home gardens. The best practices were written up and turned into a book that was used to train volunteers to work with families of malnourished children. Within six months, more than sixty-five percent of the families had gardens and malnutrition had decreased by sixty-six percent. This program was picked up by international donors and expanded to a program that benefits five million people.

In 2000 the CPK started working with the Moringa tree as another way of getting protein and micronutrients into children 's diets. It is especially useful to families that do not have the space or time for a home garden. Three tablespoons of Moringa tree leaf powder provides a child with a high percentage of its daily requirements -- 42 percent of protein, 272 percent of vitamin A, and 71 percent of iron. The powder can also be put in cookies that can supplement the child's diet between meals.

Currently the CPK is running 12 feeding centers that feed 500 severely malnourished children and provides food for another 1,100 moderately malnourished children every day. More than 10,000 children have been rehabilitated and their families have been followed up with at their homes with garden and Moringa tree lessons and less than one percent of the children rehabilitated become malnourished again after they leave the program. In all, the CPK distributes 88 tons of food from the World Food Program each month.

AIDS

It is more difficult to measure the success of the AIDS work, but much has been learned nonetheless. The CPK AIDS program has expanded from a program that was just run through its health department to one that involves all areas of the church. Women's groups identify families affected by AIDS in the community and follow up with them to give them moral and material support to the best of their ability. When appropriate, one of the pastors trained by the health program will counsel and pray with the family members. AIDS education has expanded to being a part of the activities of the health, women's, youth and Christian education departments. The health department has also started to test all pregnant women that are willing to be tested and treat the HIV positive mothers with Niverapine to stop the transmission of the virus to the newborn child.