Local gov't action vs malnutrition is critical – DSWD
MANILA, Philippines – In improving the nutritional status of Filipino children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it's important for local government units (LGUs) to be actively involved.
According to Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, the department is working hand-in-hand with partners – especially LGUs – in the implementation of projects against hunger and malnutrition in the country. (READ: How can LGUs help prevent hunger?)
One of these projects is the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) which seeks to provide meals to children enrolled in public day care centers and supervised neighborhood play (SNP) across the country.
The nutritional conditions of beneficiaries are prioritized since meals prepared by parents guided by menus developed by nutritionists cover one-third of the required nutrients based on the Recommended Energy and Nutrition Intake (RENI).
Data from National Nutrition Council’s Operation Timbang from 2010 to 2014 indicate that there’s no significant change in the state of nutrition of children under 6 years old. (READ: State of PH nutrition: The last five years)
The government is trying to change this through social protection programs like the SFP.
In 2015, more than 2.05 million children residing in at least 1,361 LGUs are expected to benefit from the program.
DSWD has initiated the transfer of the SFP budget for 2015 – amounting to more than P3.6 billion ($77 million)* – to LGUs to expand their role in the fight against malnutrition among their constituents. (READ: Makati and Taguig: Best practices against hunger, malnutrition)
LGUs were able to get the support of the private sector in the implementation of the feeding program through donations in the form of supplies or even infrastructure.
The municipal government of San Nicolas in Pangasinan, for example, tapped a power corporation that donated additional sustenance such as milk and biscuits. The private company also sponsored the construction of day care centers.
The same LGU provided free transportation to deliver supplies to centers located in far-flung areas.
To track the improvement of beneficiaries, children are weighed before, 3 months in, and after the 120-day feeding program. DSWD reported positive results thus far.
Other communities, meanwhile, were able to start small vegetable gardens, improve nutritional awareness among families, and increase day care center attendance, among others. (READ: Voices from the ground: How to overcome hunger)
In addition, the livelihood of local producers is prioritized since DSWD encourages the use of indigenous or locally-sourced ingredients.
The effects of SFP are “slowly but surely” securing the future of healthy Filipino children, Soliman emphasized.
“With modest gains, SFP is slowly bearing fruit,” she said.
This progress, she added, indicates that the budget given to the program reaches those who are in need. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P46