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Maryam a mother of five children from Sagu community in Buji LGA, Jigawa State feels elated of the empowerment she had received that had enabled her practice Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) differently and better with her two younger children than she did with her first three kids.
“I feel content in my heart because I believe I had given my two younger children, Isma’il and Rekiya a strong start for a bright future by doing my best in eating nutritious meal when I was pregnant, exclusively breastfeeding them for the first six month and practicing healthy complementary breastfeeding till they turned two” says Maryam a proud mother.
“I learnt how to take care of my children especially through exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding and I am so amazed because I did not visit the hospital frequently like I did in the past due to very frequent illness, infection and lack of weight my older children had”. Pointing at her young son who is 3 years old and the first beneficiary of the knowledge she gained through our program, Maryam said, “just look at Isma’il, he is doing very well in school”.
Maryam was one of the women who was enrolled into the Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP) having met the requirement. She was provided with unconditional monthly cash transfer of 4,000NGN to enable her nutritiously feed as a pregnant woman. She also received nutritional education through Social behavioral change communications (SBCC).
“Through the information I received during my antenatal care class, I now know that my baby do not need additional water apart from my breast milk for the first six months. I practiced that with Isma’il and Rekiya and I am personally amazed at the difference I have noticed in their health compared to my older children when they were their age,” elated Maryam said.
Apart from Maryam’s recent healthy IYCF practices, she has built resilience and means of livelihood through the support she received. She was able to 2 sheep which have reproduced to six from the saving she got from the monthly cash transfers she received. Strengthening her means of livelihood, Maryam branched out into cosmetic business from the profit she made from the sales of some of her livestock.
“I cater for my needs and that of my children much better now. I cannot thank Action Against Hunger enough for enlightening me. I am a better mother and woman,” Maryam said, eye gleaming with gratitude.
“I used to practice mixed feeding instead of exclusive breastfeeding. As a result, my first six children suffered from diarrhea, fever and headache until they became malnourished at one time or the other but my 7th child, Anas Nahajja has a different experience from my other children,” said Jimmai Nahajja a mother of seven and CDGP beneficial from Maikili Community, Gagarawa LGA, Jigawa State.
Jimmai just like most mothers in Maikili and some communities spread across Northeast Nigeria especially practice Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) method that is ineffective in meeting the nutritional need of children, particularly those who are under the age of 5.
Jimmai was enrolled into The Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP) in 2016 when she was six months pregnant for her 7th child Anas. Not only was she provided with monthly unconditional cash transfers of 4,000 NGN through the programme, Jimmai was empowered with nutritious education where she was supported with increased knowledge needed to ensure that the first 1,000 days of the life of her child is secured through exclusive breastfeeding and effective complementary breastfeeding.
“I used to squeeze out that first sticky and yellowish milk that comes from my breast just after I deliver. I thought that milk was dirt. Now I know that that the milk has everything my baby needs and can protect my baby from falling sick. When I delivered my last baby Anas, I made sure he started sucking immediately and I ensured that one single drop did not touch the ground” Jimmai shares her recent IYCF practices.
Our recent field update has it that the proportion of lactating women who did not squeeze out the colostrum before initiating breastfeeding rose to 85% in Maikili community between September 2019 and March 2019. This rise in the number of lactating mothers whose IYCF practice have improved is due to the increased enlightenment through SBCC.
We are in smile because our concerted efforts to improve child nutrition in Maikili Community in Gagarawa LGA, Jigawa State is having a beautiful outlook though so much still needs to be done.