Nicaragua has reaped recent success in reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth as of late. With one of the highest growth rates in all of Central America, Nicaragua has seen its economy grow by 30% since the Sandinistas returned to power in 2006. Such news is encouraging, as the 2013 Human Development Index ranks Nicaragua 129 out of 187 countries. Currently, 12% of all children under five suffer from undernourishment in Latin America and the Caribbean forcing the nation to refocus its goal.
Recently, the World Food Programme announced that they will do their part to help break this threatening pattern by implementing programs for prevention, reduction, and treatment of nutrient deficiencies in children under five as well as other vulnerable populations. At a recent Regional Nutritional Meeting, an updated strategy for the New Year was introduced to help maximize nutritional value in meals delivered through social programs. In 2014, WFP will aid efforts in Nicaragua by implementing five initial activities:
1. With the assistance of the Nicaraguan government, WFP will utilize locally produced products high in nutrients.
2. Supporting country models, WFP will address chronic malnourishment by conducting applicable evidence surveys.
3. Piloting a national review of current social protection programs.
4. Preparing regional studies for the financial costs of solving chronic malnourishment.
5. Conducting another review of national monitoring and evaluation systems concerning nutritional challenges.
WFP Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Alzira Ferreira, spoke about the ongoing war on child undernourishment. “If young girls and boys do not receive adequate nutrition to properly develop, the damage to their bodies and minds could be irreversible. Later in life those children may develop health problems and perform poorly in school, consequently limiting their capacity to contribute to the well-being of their families, communities, and countries. We can avoid that by making nutrition central to all our interventions.”
This new Regional Nutrition Strategy will help allow Nicaragua and other governments suffering from a similar plight to focus on child nutrition from the womb to two years of age, where receiving sufficient nutrients and calories can be critical. This comes on the heels of a lucrative memorandum of understanding between Nicaragua and a major Chinese telecommunications company, which will fund a build an interoceanic canal and freight railroad across the country rivaling the Panama Canal. Recent optimism and support has allowed Nicaragua a chance at achieving stability and a new healthy nutrition standard.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley