The physical height of our children is a leading indicator of the future health of the nation, its social stability and its economic prospects. Yet we are trapped by poor nutrition that damages children before they go to school and impacts them into adulthood. We have yet to find a better predictor of an adult’s economic potential than their height at two years of age, and yet, even though we know this, a fifth to a quarter of children in South Africa are stunted (i.e. have a low height to age ratio).
Zero-stunting would mean that one million more young children are able to thrive each year – increasing our GDP by at least 2%.
We will continue investing in a national zero-stunting campaign that seeks to intervene during the first 1 000 days of a child’s life by supporting parents and caregivers to encourage behaviour change and reduce rates of stunting. We are exploring how we can leverage a ‘child-centred food systems’ approach to better understand and support initiatives that address food system reform, climate change and make early learning programmes hubs for nutrition. Alongside this work, we will continue to support research that measures the nutritional status, and development progress, of South Africa’s children, at both a provincial and district level, to build a strong evidence base where it has historically been sorely lacking. This growing body of research and evidence is building support for the emergence of an advocacy coalition to promote nutrition and children’s well-being.
Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of stunting among children aged 0–5 by continuing to invest in a national zero-stunting campaign.
What we are working on…
- Reducing the prevalence of stunting for children under five from approximately 23% to 16%.
- Mobilising critical actors (state, civil society and business) towards the goal of zero-stunting.
- Utilising an approach to food systems that reduces and prevents stunting.
Flagship projects addressing this opportunity
Civil society projects addressing this opportunity
These projects are by no means a comprehensive list of the work of civil society. This list represents a small selection of organisations that will be updated from time to time
Strengthening ECD networks
The foundation aims to transform the ECD sector by establishing and coordinating a cohesive ECD network in an area where support and resources are lacking. The foundation builds relationships between organisations through networking – it assists them with registration, access to information and funding, as well as the provision of teacher training and ECD infrastructure to create safe environments for children.
Protecting vulnerable babies
Upper Highway Baby Home is a place of safety for abandoned children where young mothers can get support. A key programme of UHBH is the Saving Futures and First 1000 Days programmes with the aim of keeping young mothers in school and infants with a parent, and to reduce the number of abandoned babies. The support UHBH provides ranges from participants gaining a sense of belonging to a community of people going through the same activities related to child-rearing, conflict resolution with family members and, most importantly, accessing resources including nappies and toys.
Healthy mother raising healthy children
For the past 44 years, the Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Trust has played a critical role in the delivery of improved maternal and child health outcomes in the Western Cape and in the Eastern Cape. Philani has developed an evidence-based programmatic model that shows that effective and scalable maternal and child nutritional interventions have the potential to reduce and address child undernutrition. Philani’s flagship Mentor Mother programme has proved to be cost-effective, easily implemented by community health workers (CHWs) and more effective over a longer period of time. Over time the work of Philani has expanded to also include early learning programmes, alcohol harm reduction interventions in the home and income-generating programmes that target women.
Early childhood nutrition & play
Zero2Five’s mission is to promote holistic Early Childhood Development in formerly disadvantaged areas by improving learners’ health and education outcomes with nutrition and education programmes. Zero2Five helps children reach their developmental milestones in their formative years for them to reach their full potential and have a safe and prosperous future life. This work also includes providing over 800 unfunded and under-resourced Early Childhood Development Centres in marginalized communities with highly nutritious meals, nutrition & WASH training programmes for teachers and ongoing monitoring and mentoring. Alongside this, Zero2Five implements large-scale GMP (Growth Monitoring and Promotion) campaigns and measures the growth and development in ECD centres to monitor its nutrition programme.