UNMISS peacekeepers conducts healthy, inexpensive cooking session with Eastern Equatorian mothers

unmiss south sudan eastern equatoria state rwanda peacekeepers child malnutrition cooking demonstration mothers diet nutritious meals

Cooking nutritious, inexpensive meals is an art, here demonstrated by UNMISS peacekeepers in Eastern Equatoria State. Photos by Okello James/UNMISS

31 Jan 2022

UNMISS peacekeepers conducts healthy, inexpensive cooking session with Eastern Equatorian mothers

Okello James

EASTERN EQUATORIA - Acute malnutrition among children is an all-too-common problem in South Sudan, and Eastern Equatoria State is no exception. UN peacekeepers from Rwanda based in the state therefore conducted an outreach activity to teach mothers in Odikolong near Torit how to prepare healthy meals for their offspring.

“Food is sometimes lacking, and when it is available many women don’t know how to provide their children with a balanced diet using the little money they have,” said Amaring Ikalwa Rose, a female chief in the area. “Most mothers feed their children once a day, a practice that contributes to their poor growth.”

Records from the hospital in Torit show that every day, between one and three malnourished children are brought to the facility daily. To mitigate the problems, the hospital has created mother-to-mother support groups in the communities.

“We receive many reports about affected children from these groups, and we can tell that there is a lack of awareness about what constitutes a suitable diet for the young ones,” confirmed Antansia Sabasio, director of nutrition at the health centre.

To support the state’s Ministry of Health, Rwandan troops serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan invited approximately 50 mothers to a demonstration of how healthy, inexpensive meals can be prepared. The event included practical sessions, with various kinds of vegetables, beans, meat, potatoes and porridge being cooked to perfection.

“Whenever the children of a country are raised well, the nation will have healthier citizens who are better placed to serve and help South Sudan develop,” said Major Marcelin Gatete, commander of the Rwandan contingent based in Torit, as she explained the rationale behind their culinary outreach programme.

In a forecast for last year, the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that 1.4 million South Sudanese children were expected to suffer from acute malnutrition.