An NGO, I Care Women and Youth Initiative (I Care) has targeted 6,000 fathers in Igabi Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State on a research designed to promote appropriate complementary feeding.
Abdulrahaman Mikail, the Project Manager of the programme made the disclosure in Kaduna on Tuesday at a one-day meeting to develop minimum dietary diversity sms and voice prompt messages to be used in the advocacy.
Mikail said that the research is tagged, “Engaging Fathers of Children aged six to 23 months through a package of Community-Based Interventions to Improve Complementary Feeding Practices.”
He said that the research, supported by Alive and Thrive (FHI 360), would run from Feb. 15, 2019 to July 2020 in six wards of Igabi LGA.
“We will be sending minimum dietary diversity messages via sms and voice prompt to the father’s mobile phones weekly in the next one year.
“We will equally reach the fathers through religious platforms, community forums, health workers and the media,” Mikail said.
The project manager said the research tools would be tested in Jaji in the next four weeks before rolling out to the six wards namely Rigasa and Rigachikun, Turunku, Kwarau, Zangon Aya and Igabi.
He explained that the goal was to motivate fathers to procure diverse foods to support appropriate complementary feeding that would provide children six to 23 months with the needed nutrients and vitamins.
“Findings show that fathers provide the financial resources for mothers to purchase the needed variety of food groups for the family, while grandmothers teach the mother how to cook.
“After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, breast milk will no longer be sufficient to meet all the nutritional requirement of infants.
“Therefore, breast milk and adequate complementary feeding from at least four minimum dietary diversity such as grains, roots and tubers; legumes and nuts; vitamin A rich vegetables and fruits and meat, fish and eggs are recommended for children between six months and 23 months with a minimum diet.
“This is key because good nutrition in the first 1,000 days from conception to two years of age, is critical to enable all children to lead healthier and more productive lives,” Mikail said.
The programme manager said that the research intends to show how mobile phones could be used to engaged fathers to facilitate the provision of diverse foods for complementary feeding in Kaduna State.
“We also want to see how religious leaders, traditional birth attendants, community and faith-based organisations can motivate fathers to ensure adequate complementary feeding for children over six months.
“We equally want to see how family members, especially fathers influence the type and quality of food a family feed to children from six months to 23 months.
“The research also wants to establish the role of health workers in promoting consumption of additional food groups to raise dietary diversity,” he added.
Also, Malam Abubakar Musa of Alive and Thrive, said that nutrition interventions in the state and the country had focused more on mothers with minimal result.
“We mostly excluded the fathers, forgetting that they provide the financial resources and decides what the family eats.
“This research intends to show the roles fathers can play in improving the quality of foods and providing the minimum dietary diversity required by children six to 23 months.
“This is the first time such research will be conducted in Kaduna and Lagos states and if successful, the project will be scale up to all part of the state and the country,” Musa said.
Mr Hector Agada, Small and Medium Enterprise and Corporate Sales Manager, 9 Mobile, said that the mobile company was happy to be part of the research for the healthy growth and development of children in the state.