December 10, 2014 | By Roger Thurow

Lunchtime in Uganda

This video and post originally appeared on the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.



Good nutrition in the first 1,000 days is vital for the growth of a child’s body and brain. Micronutrient deficiencies—lack of iron, zinc and essential vitamins—can lead to physical and mental stunting, which sentences a child to a life of underachievement.

Along with breastfeeding, particularly important is the complementary feeding of solid foods which begins when the child is around six months old. In northern Uganda, nurses and midwives spread the word about the importance of a diversified diet, rich in vegetables other than the staple corn.

Since most rural families can’t afford to eat meat more than once or twice a month, they rely on the vegetables and fruits that they grow themselves. The farmers in this area—most of them are women and moms—are fortunate, for they have begun cultivating orange-flesh sweet potatoes that are rich in Vitamin A and a bean variety with high iron content. These biofortified crops have been developed by HarvestPlus; through breeding, the nutrient elements already in plants are increased.

In this slideshow, we see Brenda Okullu putting these lessons into practice as she prepares lunch for her 15-month-old son Aron. She begins by walking to her fields to gather all she needs: orange sweet potatoes, the high-iron beans, green leaves from a pea plant, wild mushrooms and peanuts. She boils the sweet potatoes, beans and greens, chops up the mushrooms and grinds the peanuts for a sauce.

It is a healthy, colorful lunch for the entire family. For Aron, Brenda mashes the vegetables together in a bowl, leaving a few whole boiled sweet potatoes that he can pick up and chew. She washes Aron’s hands and then he digs in.

Roger’s international reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Archive


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In the first year classroom of Shemena Godo Primary School, in Boricha, Ethiopia, three dozen children study the alphabet. On a black chalkboard, teacher Chome Muse highlights the letter B and writes the combination with each vowel. Ba, be, bi, bo, bu.

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A mother knows. “This child is brilliant,” Harriet Okaka says about her one-year-old son, Abraham.  She isn’t bragging, just observing.  “I can tell, just by looking at him,” she says, “the way he plays, the way he is.”

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1,000 Days Project

Roger Thurow’s next book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

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The young man from the farm was looking smart in an olive green suit, salmon tie and cufflinks.  His black shoes were a bit scuffed, but his English was polished.  “We are moving forward,” he said.  “Forward ever, backward never.”

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In the vast assembly room at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, overlooking one of the nation’s premier food banking facilities, Drexton Granberry joyfully came to the end of his speech.  


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Multimedia

Videos


 


Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

» Learn more.
» Order your copy of the book.

Books

The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

Learn more »

The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

Learn more »

EnoughEnough

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

Learn more »