Mawa: Improving Food and Economic Security in Zambia

"Zambia is one of 22 African countries with the highest burden of under nutrition in children under 5" reports the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF. In Zambia's Eastern Province, one of the country's most agriculturally productive regions, stunting rates among all children under age 5 are over 45% and highest among boys, whose stunting rates are over 51%. It is within this context that Mawa aims to bridge the gap between food security and malnutrition among lactating women and children under age 2 with a focus in the province's rural communities.

Formally launched on June 5, the USAID-funded Mawa project—part of Feed the Future, the U.S Government's Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative—is an integrated food security activity linking improvements in both health and nutritional status with improvements in food and economic security. "Mawa," coined from the Chinyania term meaning "east" or "tomorrow," is a consortium led by Catholic Relief Services with support from other members, including  Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART), Women for Change, Caritas Chipata, and URC.

Map of Zambia

Over the next five years, Mawa aims to improve the lives of 21,500 smallholder households—targeting 12,500 households with intensive health and nutrition promotion—by providing the tools and knowledge to empower communities to reap the nutritional and economic benefits of diversified agricultural production.

Building Capacity for Improved Nutritional Status

Mawa aims to improve caregiver and community dietary practices, maternal and child health care, and rural livelihoods in a sustainable fashion to combat malnutrition. As a consortium partner, URC brings decades of experience in the development of health communication and behavior change materials for nutrition and health activities. These materials will be used by nutrition volunteers in the project to educate families on improved infant and young child feeding practices and appropriate hygiene and sanitation practices. URC will also work with other consortium partners to build awareness about the problem of undernutrition in target communities.

By using social behavior change approaches to examine and optimize agricultural production practices, URC will build linkages to agricultural components that will promote the use of locally available food and resources. The project plans a broad range of activities to improve access to, and the consumption of, expanded dietary choices. Such activities include peer-to-peer counseling supported by "care groups." These groups will comprise nutrition volunteers who will receive 1) supportive supervision and reinforcement in groups, 2) mobile phone-accessible materials and voice messages, and 3) culturally appropriate counseling cards. URC will also support community feeding and learning sessions, where caregivers will have an opportunity to learn and practice better complementary feeding practices with their children.

URC works in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services and other Mawa Consortium members to implement Mawa, which is from the American people through USAID.

The Mawa logo reflects a nutritious food basket, promoting the projects integrated agriculture, nutrition, and livelihood components.
July 31, 2013
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