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Care International Steps Up Efforts to End Cultural Impediment for Nutritious Diet in Karamoja :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Care International Steps Up Efforts to End Cultural Impediment for Nutritious Diet in Karamoja

Kodoit explained that pregnant women who consume offals may experience difficulties during labor, while children may develop inappropriate behaviors like prostitution if they consume certain foods. According to Elders, those who disobey the taboos will suffer consequences ranging from sickness, failure to produce, viginal discharge, miscarriages, and prostitution among others depending on what was consumed.
CASCADE staff interracting with Mothers in Kangole middle village during data collection in Napak

Audio 1

Care International has intensified its efforts to combat detrimental cultural practices affecting the dietary intake of women of reproductive age and children under five years old in the Karamoja sub-region. Food taboos have been identified as significant barriers contributing to high levels of malnutrition among women and children. 

These taboos include prohibitions on consuming the meat of dead animals, offal, liver, certain vegetables, chicken, and other items. According to local elders, individuals who disobey these taboos may face consequences such as sickness, infertility, vaginal discharge, miscarriages, and even engaging in prostitution, depending on the taboo violated.

Johnson Kodoit, an elder from Kangole Middle Village in Kangole Town Council emphasized the role of elders in determining acceptable food for consumption. He highlighted specific animal body parts, such as the liver, reproductive organs, and offal, as potentially harmful if consumed by women and children.

Kodoit explained that pregnant women who consume offals may experience difficulties during labor, while children may develop inappropriate behaviors like prostitution if they consume certain foods. Furthermore, Kodoit stated that children are not supposed to eat liver to prevent them from defecating indoors. He emphasized that these restrictions are intended to protect women and children from harm.

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Stella Abura, a mother of seven from Kangole Middle Village, attested to the strict adherence to these norms, acknowledging the burden it places on women's work. "For us everything said by elders is true, I have never tried to violate any of the norms mentioned above because I know it works and I should not be a victim,” she said. 

Abura recounted instances where children who consumed liver ended up soiling the house with feces, reinforcing the importance of obeying cultural norms. Despite the challenges imposed by these norms, Abura expressed her support for them, believing they serve to safeguard women and children from harm. However, Care International is implementing a project named Catalyzing Strengthened Policy Action for Healthy Diets and Resilience (CASCADE) to address some of the harmful cultural practices affecting nutrition in the region. 

Judith Chale, the Nutrition Hub Manager at Care International for the Karamoja sub-region, explained that they are conducting assessments in the districts of Abim, Moroto, Kotido, and Napak to understand the social norms influencing food and nutrition behaviors among the Karamojong communities.   Chale emphasized the importance of this research in informing culturally sensitive approaches to address food and nutrition challenges, particularly for women and young children who face significant obstacles in accessing resources and integrating into the community.