The Red Zone: Child Hunger

A child gets measured by an MAUC band that shows the child is underweight.

In combatting child hunger, the red zone of a MUAC band tells health workers that a child needs help.

Food for the Hungry (FH) care group leaders wrap the band around a child’s arm—if it shows red, the child is underweight.

It’s a fast and easy way to get critical information and show parents proof of a child’s state of health.

FH care groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are teaching parents through check-ups and meetings how to keep their children thriving. When finding severely underweight children, care group leaders either suggest temporary hospitalization or teach how to prepare nutritious foods for increasing weight.

Using local ingredients, like yams and other foods rich in nutrients, parents learn to make porridges and other dishes to feed a child several times a day.

Many parents listen to these teachings, because they are often taught by locals. FH trains mothers in the communities to run care groups, using social networking as a way to educate and improve health.

As the internet, television and radio are commonly used by Americans to spread information—in small, rural communities, meetings and relationship building spread news. FH instructs mothers in health practices, such as how to spot and treat a malnourished child, cooking nutritious food, effective hygiene to prevent disease and sanitation.

This mother then teaches ten other mothers. While this information is normal to us, many communities living in poverty find the teachings strange at first. It’s like you or I learning to drive on the opposite side of the road. We would resist, because we’ve done it the “normal” way for so long.

However, since these teachings are coming from a trusted source (the mother leaders), the information is easier to believe and practice. When parents see their children’s health improving, they practice this information and pass it down to new generations transforming a community permanently.

Care groups are also very cost effective. One FH staff can train up to 600 women. One staff will train six groups consisting of ten women. Each of these women trains ten mothers each, and life-saving information cascades through a village moving children out of the red zone, and into the green zone of good health.

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy endorsed FH’s care groups as a high-impact, low-cost solution to child malnutrition. It’s one of the creative ways FH is working with partners like you and impoverished communities to find solutions to end poverty and the suffering of children.

About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

, , , , , , ,