Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Malezi Bora – Food Biodiversity for Improved Nutrition in Kenya

29 Oct 2015

Part 3 of three special reports from Vihiga County, Kenya, where a research initiative is empowering the community to better use available agricultural biodiversity to improve nutrition all the year round. Esther Odera, Nutrition Coordinator, Vihiga County and local partner in this research initiative, reports on the upcoming ‘Malezi bora Week’ in Vihiga County.

Malezi bora is a Swahili phrase meaning “good upbringing”. Malezi bora weeks are observed bi-annually in the health calendar of Kenya, in May and November.

The National theme for the next Malezi bora week is ‘Improving the life of the mother and the newborn’ This has led the team at the Health Department of Vihiga county, to choose ’Food Biodiversity for improved nutrition‘ as the theme for our local celebrations.

We are convinced that this theme cuts across all the components of Malezi Bora, as good and proper nutrition will lead to a healthy pregnancy outcome and so a healthy baby!

This theme was inspired by the presence of the Bioversity International in our county here in Vihiga who have been working with the local communities to empower them to improve nutrition using locally available agricultural biodiversity.

Following on from the diagnostic survey, the communities learned that the results showed that dietary diversity was poor in the district, yet we have very rich biodiversity around us – wild, cultivated and domesticated. This led to a series of workshops working with communities in five locations in our county in order to raise awareness of the importance of dietary diversity and the benefits of healthy diets.

We are now seeing that the community members, through groups like mother to mother support groups and community health volunteers, are getting to understand the importance of diversifying foods, and we are repeating the same messages to clients at health facilities by health personnel. This action is spearheaded by our County Nutrition Department, culminating in the Malezi Bora week celebrations in November 2015. Various activities have been lined up to spread the word among our population and to ensure the theme is a success including special nutrition education sessions throughout the week.

By Esther Odera, Vihiga County Nutrition Co-ordinator

Read the first two reports of this special series:

Part 1: How communities in Kenya are putting nutritious diversity back on the plate

Part 2: Community action for improved nutrition gathers momentum in Kenya

This research is being carried out in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, and the CGIAR Research Program on Humidtropics, and as part of our ‘Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’ Initiative

Photo: Esther Odera participating in a nutrition education session in Vihiga County, spreading the word about the importance of diet diversity. Credit: E. Odera