In November 2018, a three-person team including Mr. Bernard Ndi, Nascent’s Country Director for Cameroon, Dr. Truphena Choti, Nascent’s Director of Education at HQ and Dr. Beatrice Wamey, Nascent’s President and CEO made their first trip to Sierra Leone. The entry into Sierra Leone marks Nascent’s expansion to more than five African sub-Saharan countries.
The trip was was designed to provide Nascent with the opportunity for share its vision for Sierra Leone with the stakeholders and seek their support in realizing the vision; to register the Nascent as an international non-governmental organization in the Country and to launch activities funded under the 2018 USAID Office of Food for Peace’s International Food relief Partnership (IFRP) program. The IFRP provides opportunity for Nascent and its local partners to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among young children in Moyamba District, Southern Province of Sierra Leone. On behalf of the US Embassy, Dr. Derrin Smith, in various capacities, welcomed Nascent and assured the team of the support of the US Embassy.
The team was awed by the cordial reception received from several of His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction Government, including Hon. Kalilu IbrahimTotangi, Chairman of the National Council for Civic Education and Development. Hon Kalilu offered the services of one of his most committed collaborator, Mr. Mohamed Massaquoi,to assist Nascent team. Mr. Massaquoi, is a reputed journalist with profound understanding of his country, its systems, procedures, processes and policies guiding the functioning of non-governmental organizations. Mr. Massaquoi facilitated the start-up tasks that including registration of the organization in the country, meeting with senior-level government officials and chaperoned the trip Moyamba district, the target region for Nascent’s project
Within the one week of work in Sierra Leone, Nascent had the opportunity to consult with several government officials including Hon. Baindu Dassama, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs andHon. Joseph Jonathan Ndanema, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. In addition, Nascent team held discussions with senior technical staff at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation comprising of Ms. Aminata Shamit Koroma, the Director of Food and Nutrition, and Ms. Solade Edith Pyne-Bailey, the Deputy Program Manager and Principal Nutritionist.
The sentiment that ran through the visiting Nascent team was the assurance that they were at home in Sierra Leone. The cordiality, the good food and the willingness to assist that was palpable on all the faces made a significant impact on us. Nascent will work with a local Partner, the Development Initiative Program (DIP) that not only opened its doors to us but offered to share their materials and human resources. And the Council Chairperson at Moyamba offered Nascent a safe and secure complex with office and warehouse space.
Despite of the Thanksgiving Holiday, Dr. Derrin Smith, in his various capacities, welcomed Nascent and assured the team of the support of the US Embassy towards the implementation of the project .
Malnutrition rates in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the world and the single greatest cause of child mortality in the country. In a 2016 UNDP study conducted in Sierra Leone, nearly one third of under-fives are chronically malnourished; about 28.8 percent are stunted, 12.9 percent are underweight and 4.7 percent are wasted. Caring practices, nutrition awareness and dietary habits are the major contributing factors to acute child malnutrition. For instance, lack of breastfeeding is a serious problem as only 8% of the children are adequately breastfed and families cannot afford the fortified foods needed to save their children.
The specific objectives of the project include 1) increasing the access of 3,700 children to supplementary food, 2) increasing caregivers’ knowledge and use of good nutrition and hygiene practices, 3) increasing caregivers’ use of improved gardening and livelihood skills.
The project will benefit 3700 households with children 6 to 36 months of age in Moyamba district. The district has a population of 318, 064 people (based on the 2015 census). It occupies a land area of 6,902 km2 (9.6% of the Sierra Leone land mass) and comprises of 14 chiefdoms, further divided into 143 sections, and a total of 1617 communities. Agriculture occupies the largest sector of the economy in the district, providing livelihoods for over 71% of the population. The main crops include cereals (maize, rice, sorghum and millet), starchy food crops (yam and cassava), and palm oil. Moyamba residents also grow small crops such as cashew, black pepper, ginger and pineapples. Despite the abundance of land and water resources, the majority of the people are small holder farmers with 0.5 to 2 cropped hectares, operating as basic subsistence food production. In the coastal regions, sea fishing is a common livelihood activity. The poverty rate in the district stands at 70% and the Wealth Index (WI) indicates that 43% of the district households are in the two poorest quintiles.
Nascent selected Moyamba district as the target region for this intervention because of the following factors: 1) highest percentages of severely food-insecure households, over 50 % of the households are food insecure, with 16 % severely food insecure; 2) high incidences of severe acute malnutrition for children under-five years of age; 3) the least household dietary diversity score index of 4.1, below the national average of 4.6 ; and 4) ability to build on interventions and networks that Nascent’s partner, Development Initiative Programme (DIP) has established in the target region.
With a three-man Board of Directors established under the Chairmanship of Mr. Emanuel Fatoma, Nascent is seeking to recruit competent professionals who will collaborate with key government agencies as well as its local partner DIP to implement the project. With all these developments, Nascent is committed to support the government of Sierra Leone in advancing the country new direction mandate towards self-sufficiency, sustainability and a prosperous future.