As one of the 38 countries to achieve anti-hunger targets for 2015, Peru has a lot to celebrate. In fact, the country has managed to reduce its number of hungry people by half in the last 15 years.
LIMA – Thanks to a combination of rising incomes and national nutrition programmes in the country, chronic malnutrition among Peruvian children under five years of age has fallen drastically from 19.5 per cent to 14.6 per cent in recent years. Yet still more remains to be done – especially in a country with pockets of vulnerable communities who are susceptible to natural disasters and the deficiencies and illnesses caused by a poor diet.
Peru’s workshop on “Food and Nutrition in Emergencies”.
Photo copyright: WFP/Diana Guerrero
Drinking Water Or Soft Drinks?
The World Food Programme (WFP) is working alongside the Peruvian government to educate communities on the benefits of a nutritional diet, as well as good health and hygiene practices. Everyone from mothers to teachers will have better knowledge on how children can eat to prevent illness and deficiencies. This is particularly important as anaemia has become an increasing problem for Peruvian children in recent years.
One person leading the way on this initiative is Soley Cordova. As a nurse, Soley Cordova, cares for the people´s health in her community. She has joined WFP´s school aerobics campaign – Aerotón “Race Against Malnutrition”, which promotes healthy habits among students through the discussion of topics such as safe drinking water, dental hygiene, hand-washing, through physical activities and by practicing good eating and proper nutrition.
“In the Vice District of Sechura, the supply of drinking water is deficient, the population there is not in the habit of drinking water,” said Cordova. Instead of water, “they consume soft drinks, which gives us an example of the eating and nutrition habits boys and girls grow up with.” Soley hopes that through ongoing projects, such as WFP’s Aeroton, bad nutrition and health in Peru will soon be a thing of the past.
Disasters And Food Security
Natural disasters are a key reason for lack of access to food among vulnerable populations in Peru, as the country is located at the intersection of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, an area which registers more than 80 percent of seismic movements worldwide. In addition to devastating earthquakes, Peru is also subject to tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, frosts, droughts, and the climate change phenomena “El Niño”.
WFP’s Promoting Food Security and Nutrition in Sechura (PROSAN) project is building community resilience by helping people prepare for disaster scenarios – from packing emergency backpacks to organising communication channels and food distributions.
Preparing And Reducing Disaster Risks
“It (natural disaster) can happen at any place and time” – Alberta Valladolid
Few people understand the need for such preparation better than Alberta Adrianzen Valladolid. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake destroyed several homes and churches in her town of Sechura, leaving many, including Alberta, without light, water, communications or food.
Alberta wanted to do something for her community so she joined the workshop on “Food and Nutrition in Emergencies”. As a store manager, she helps her community benefit from her personal experience.
“Here in Sechura, many people take the issue of prevention as a joke, they do not participate as they should in the drills,” Alberta explains. “But when I tell them what I experienced and the fear it gives me to think of an earthquake, they listen.”
Alberta says she is now able to talk about the importance of disaster preparedness: “It can happen at any place and time, it can happen in Parachique, in Piura, or even in Lima, so we must be prepared. I am learning about malnutrition, poverty, and how to prepare our family and community to know how to get access to food in an emergency.”