The annual food security and nutrition survey conducted between March and April this year reveals that only 58.2 per cent of mothers in host communities exclusively breastfeed their children while 41.8 per cent don’t.
Nearly half of the mothers in
Kiryandongo District don't exclusively breastfeed their children for up to six months, as medically recommended,
according to a survey conducted by health officials in the district.
Exclusive breastfeeding refers to
giving breast milk to an infant, without any additional food or drink, in the first six months of their life. The practice has been famed as one of the essential actions for infant development and survival and one of the most effective ways to ensure child
health and survival.
But the annual food security and
nutrition survey conducted between March and April this year reveals
that only 58.2 per cent of mothers in host communities exclusively
breastfeed their children while
41.8 per cent don’t. The survey also showed that only 37 per cent of refugee mothers in the Kiryandongo Refugee settlement, home to some
75,857 refugees mostly from South Sudan exclusively breastfeed their babies.
Michael Balimugulira, the Kiryandongo
District Nutrition Focal Person says the survey points to a startling drop in exclusive
breastfeeding among mothers that stood at 70 per cent in the whole district last
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The survey also reveals that few
mothers timely introduce their babies to semi-solid and solid food at the
completion of six months of life. Within
the host community, the survey found that only 32 per cent of mothers
their babies to semi-solid and solid food while in refugee settlements,
36 per cent of the mothers timely introduced their babies.
says the trend is
worrying and directly puts the lives of infants at great risk of
diseases, stunting, and even death. He says preliminary findings indicate that the high food prices and farming season where women prioritize agriculture over
their babies could be partly contributing to the vice.
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Countries Worldwide are marking
the world Breastfeeding week which commenced on August 1 and ends on August 7
to generate public awareness and support for breastfeeding. In Kiryandongo, World
Breastfeeding Week was celebrated at Opok Primary School in Kicwhabugingo
Parish, Kiryandongo Sub-county on Friday with Support from Action Against
The District Health Officer
Kiryandongo Dr Mutyaba Imaam says the district has a diverse ethnic
composition and predicts the cultural differences could have an influence on how
mothers breastfeed their children. Dr
Mutyaba however says they were yet conducting studies to ascertain the exact reasons
why few mothers are exclusively breastfeeding their babies.
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He says that the district is working
around the clock to address the knowledge gap among the mothers on the
different aspects of nutrition since exclusive breastfeeding improves the growth,
and the survival status of newborns and prevents disease.
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Some of the breastfeeding mothers
in the district however say the increase in food prices coupled with the poverty
situation has forced them not exclusively to breastfeed their babies.
Ramla Anena, a breastfeeding
mother and resident of Kicwhabugingo Parish says many mothers like her don’t have
enough money to buy nutritious food that allows them to produce enough breastmilk
for their babies for up to six months. Anena says they are forced to introduce the babies to semi-solid and
solid foods before six months to supplement their diet due to lack of breast
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Acirocan Paska, another breastfeeding
mother and resident of Kicwhabugingo Parish, says she is supplementing her three-month-old
baby’s feeding with cow milk since she can’t produce enough breast milk.
Acirocan says she can’t afford to eat nutritious meals
to enable her to produce enough breast milk for the baby.
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To supplement the vulnerable women’s diet in both the host
community and refugee settlement, some of the women have been trained on the best
agricultural practices for growing nutritious food to boost the breastfeeding
Sarah Namuli, a Nutrition officer at Action Against Hunger
(ACF) says under the organization’s Optimized Land Utilization Model (OLUM)
project, women have been trained to maximize production on a minimal piece of
land. She says through the approach, the benefiting women are given free vegetable
seedlings to grow vegetables and rabbits to rear.
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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly two
out of three infants globally are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended six
months—a rate that has not improved in two decades. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is being marked under
the theme “Step up for Breastfeeding, Educate and Support”.