Disclaimer: The following post is a rant about a certain nut-based product that is distributed to mothers to give to their malnourished children that will be called “Kalteen bars” from the movie Mean Girls. PCVs and other development workers will know what I’m talking about.
Every month there are baby weighings at the CSPS. If an infant is found to be severely underweight (arm measurement is less than 130mm) they receive food from the World Food Program for a period of two months. They are given WFP tracking forms and are ideally monitored closely by CSPS staff. Usually it consists of enriched oil and flour, and sometime they get “Kalteen” bars.
Unfortunately most of the time the food is given out with no explanation or training on how to use it effectively to gain weight; other PCVs have told me stories of villagers simply eating raw enriched flour and not cooking it.
So Sara, What’s your beef about Kalteen bars? They’re not going to the right people. Every time I see someone eating a Kalteen bar it is usually an already very healthy looking/fat functionnaire child. Kalteen bars are seen as a treat and there have been cases where CSPS workers steal Kalteen bars and give them to their relatives as a treat. I’m frustrated as a volunteer because it’s a nutritional tool that could make a difference but is not properly used or an example of sustainable development.
By handing out enriched food it only provides a crutch for the malnourished and does not build capacity and teach mothers how to make healthy food that will help their children gain weight.
In order to fix this problem villagers need to be trained how to make enriched porridge (bouille) with bean flour, peanut flour, millet flour, and sorghum flour. Heck, throw in some moringa powder to kick up the protein in the last minutes of cooking. They can also add moringa powder to any Tô or rice sauce to make a meal more nutritious! Holla Moringa Man/Woman!
This is one of the reasons why I want to do a Nutrition Training of Trainers in conjunction with my school garden project. I want to teach people to use what they have and make it what they need. Stored porridge/bouille mix can keep for a long time, and it is not much different from the bouille they already eat. It takes a little bit more prep work but that’s it.
Kalteen is a great tool to get things started and to help kids immediately gain weight. It shouldn’t be in the hands of healthy children. Monitoring and evaluation are the keys to fix this issue. I know I’m just one PCV, but if one of us speaks up, perhaps the rest will follow…