IsraAID Vanuatu targets malnutrition with support of CFLI

IsraAID Vanuatu launched a new program in October on Emau Island targeting stunting, a severe form of malnutrition. Emau is a small island north of the large Efate Island on which Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila is located. It has 6 communities with a total population of just over 900 people. The combined Nutrition and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program is being carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Shefa Health and is funded by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). Over seven months, IsraAID Vanuatu will employ household visits to spread information on nutrition and hygiene, helping families understand the root causes of malnutrition and prevent stunting.

According to the 2013 Vanuatu Demographic and Health Survey, about 30% of children under five are stunted in Vanuatu. Stunting is an irreversible condition that occurs when children do not receive enough nutrients to develop properly. It can be caused by poor dietary habits or by long-term exposure to fecal matter, which prevents proper absorption of nutrients.

IsraAID Vanuatu will target the six communities on Emau Island, north of Efate, helping families and communities access the information they need to prevent stunting and create the conditions for their children to flourish. IsraAID developed two flipcharts that convey information in an accessible manner. One of the charts addresses hygiene practices, such as proper toilet construction and handwashing. The other chart addresses proper nutrition habits, including findings from a 2023 survey that emphasized the importance of Vitamin A and protein-rich foods in infants’ diets. Village Hygiene Promoters, who are part of and familiar with the local community, will conduct household visits, using the flipcharts to explain and encourage proper hygiene and nutrition. As of April 2024, 65 toilets have been improved to the minimum standard, 15 new toilets have been constructed, and 43 handwashing stations installed. With a total of 206 households on Emau, that means 25% of the households have improved hand hygiene and 43% improved their toilet facilities – an impressive improvement so far and with several months left in the project.

IsraAID began working in Vanuatu after Category 5 Cyclone Pam displaced a quarter of the country’s population in 2015. Since then, IsraAID has been supporting Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, mental health needs, and prevention of Gender-Based Violence in Vanuatu, supporting the communities’ resilience in the face of ongoing climate disasters.

IsraAID Vanuatu’s Acting Country Director Piter Visser said:

“IsraAID Vanuatu is proud to be implementing this important cross-sectoral project to reduce rates of stunting in Emau Island. While stunting is an irreversible condition, it is highly preventable. We’re committed to ensuring that families have the resources and knowledge they need to ensure a brighter future for their children. Thanks to funding from the CFLI, we were able to develop resources to make this knowledge accessible and our door-to-door approach allows us to meet communities where they are.”

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Further information is available on request, including interviews with IsraAID Vanuatu Country Director Piter Visser and other individuals involved in this operation.

CONTACT:

Shachar May
Email: [email protected]
Phone/Whatsapp: +972586664969

Notes:

IsraAID is a leading international humanitarian non-governmental organization, based in Israel. Since 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises and a long-term commitment to working with affected communities. During and after emergencies, IsraAID partners with communities to re-build their lives – and their futures – together. As of May 2024, IsraAID has responded to more than 100 emergencies, in more than 60 countries.