Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Nsenyi Primary School in Kasese has become a functional nutrition hub, three years after it embraced the SNV Sustainable Nutrition for All (SN4A) project in 2015.
With its newly acquired status, the pilot school has now become a demonstration site where community members come for consultations and training on nutrition, vegetable production, seed multiplication, marketing and learn about water, sanitation and hygiene.
The school has owned the project and integrated the nutrition sensitive agriculture production pillar into its routine school activities in a sustainable way.
“We have weekly key messages that we pass on to the pupils during parades and assemblies and we always ensure that nutrition messages are a part of these messages. As you move around our compound, you can clearly see several messages on WASH, Nutrition and reproductive health pinned up on the trees (what we call our talking compound),” said Yowanin Baguma , Head Teacher Nsenyi Primary school.
“Our Parent teacher meetings are also not complete without the school choir singing or reciting poems about nutrition,” he added.
The school has incorporated vegetable and fruit demonstration gardens into their school curriculum and made it mandatory for every agriculture teacher to take pupils for practical lessons. This has fostered the uptake and adoption of nutrition sensitive agriculture in Nsenyi village as both school children and their parents implement what their children have learnt at school.
The project also encouraged pupils to take up rearing of small animals like rabbits to promote consumption of animal protein at household level.
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Many early adopters
James Muhindo a 13 year old Primary 7 pupil from Nsenyi Primary School is one of the early adopters. He started with two rabbits that he bought in March 2018.
From two rabbits he now boasts of 12 mature female rabbits and 1 male rabbit. In the last six months he has sold 14 rabbits and earned himself sh140,000 (32 Euro).
His father Bitaka has opened up a savings account for him and so far he has saved sh70,000 (16 Euro) and used the rest to buy books and shoes.
“I find rabbit keeping easy because I can easily get feeds as I come back from school after my classes. The sub county veterinary officer vaccinates my rabbits at sh1,000 (0.2 Euro) every four months which cost is manageable. We use the rabbit droppings as manure in our vegetable garden and because of this, we now enjoy vegetables all year round,” Muhindo narrates.
Another adopter from Nsenyi hub is Jane Kabagambi a 54 years old renowned fruit farmer. Jane recalls how she used to admire the quality of vegetables at Nsenyi primary school which motivated her to seek audience with Nsenyi Primary School Head teacher.
From the Head teacher she learnt about the importance of establishing vegetable ridges, planting and spacing. Kabagambi was also given seedlings of dodo (amaranth), spinach, sukumawiki (collard greens), and okra which she planted at home.
From her humble garden she began to expand and is now earning weekly income of sh12,000 (3 Euro) from selling her surplus vegetables to Kagando hospital. With the income she earns from her vegetables she now buys other nutritious foods like meat, fish and milk for her family, especially her grandchildren.
Not only are children and community members adoption nutrition sensitive agriculture, the impact of the nutrition hub is also improving overall academic performance of the children.
In 2017, six of the school’s primary seven candidates got Distinction I and 11 got Distinction II in their primary leaving examinations. The head teacher attributes this in part to the practical lessons done at the schools demonstration garden.
Sustainable Nutrition for All project is implemented through existing government structures.
At district level, SNV implements the project through the District Nutrition coordination committees, at sub county level through the sub county nutrition coordination committee and at parish level through the Hub and at village level through the Nutrition Action groups.
SOURCE: SNV UGANDA WEBSITE