Ian Elgie, Chair of UNA Eastbourne, visited Eastern Uganda from 26th June to 10th July 2017 as part of our Moringa Project. The following is a report on the workshops he was running in Uganda on nutrition during that visit.
In response to the need to combat rural malnutrition in eastern Uganda, a programme of workshops on simple local solutions to better nutrition using the exceptional Moringa tree was organised by Ian Elgie, Chair, UNA Eastbourne, assisted by Christina Elgie. Workshops were conducted in 5 districts of Uganda: Mbale, Sironko, Bulambuli, Kumi and Busembatia during late June and early July 2017. In total over 360 community leaders were addressed with the expectation that these participants would feedback to their village communities the essential message of the workshops.
STRUCTURE OF THE WORKSHOPS
Each workshop was structured with an introduction on the essentials of good nutrition using local , easily available food resources. An emphasis was made on the key role played by green vegetables for micro-nutrients – an element in the diet often overlooked, leading to severe malnutrition in vulnerable sectors of the community, especially mothers and young children.
After the initial introduction to the essential good balance of foods, the special role of Moringa was promoted – as a food easily available for harvest year round from household gardens. To keep within our budget 3000 50cm seedlings were purchased from 3 separate community nurseries, although a far greater number of seedlings were germinated. In addition thousands of seeds were also given out to supplement the seedlings should any fail to survive. Instructions were given on how to prepare the Moringa for meals, how to cultivate the tree and importantly how to prune it too.
LANGUAGE OF THE WORKSHOPS Workshops were conducted in English but translators were available for the main languages of the areas: Luganda, Lugisu and Ateso. Laminated A3 colour posters for public display were made in 5 languages (including Swahili) and in A5 handouts, given to all participants
AN EXAMPLAR WORKSHOP
Apollo Na Angor (ANA), Bukedea district: NGO for women’s empowerment
In preparation for this workshop, Ian Elgie had requested in February 2017 that the Director, Moses Aisia, prepare a nursery to provide at least a thousand Moringa seedlings in readiness for the July workshop. The very successful germination and rapid growth meant that by late June more than 3000 50-80cm seedlings were ready for distribution at the two local workshops. In addition thousands of seeds had been harvested from local mature trees to be handed with the seedlings.
The workshop, conducted at ANA’s Development Centre, from 10am to 1pm on the 6th July, was attended by 78 women and 4 men. English and Ateso were the languages employed. The 90 minute presentation, started with an introduction to the elements of a good meal, emphasising the importance of greens for essential micronutrients. Common African leafy vegetables (ALVs) were identified of which Moringa was noted to be the most valuable. Information was given on the best preparation of the leaves and then information of the pruning of the plant for maximum leaf production. There followed a short break and then an equally rewarding Q &A session. The morning session concluded with an excellent lunch at which stir-fried Moringa leaves were the star ingredients. Finally each participant was able to take back to their villages a packet of about 300 Moringa seeds for direct planting in their community homesteads to supplement the seedlings.
ASSESSMENT OF THE MORINGA WORKSHOPS
The planned programme
1. Coordinate with local development institutions, district officials, schools, health centres and village community representatives, in particular women’s groups in support of Uganda government policy to tackling hunger and malnutrition.
2. Pilot workshops in 5 districts, at development centres, community centres, health clinics and Mbale referral hospital nutrition unit.
3. Participants to be empowered through the workshops and educational resources to be agents of diffusion on the benefits of Moringa in their respective communities.
4. Seeds, seedlings and educational materials to be provided to participants.
5. Participants to be fully instructed on the nutritional benefits of Moringa, methods of cultivation and pruning, harvesting, storing and cooking.
All the above five elements were largely accomplished. A total of 368 participants attended in a range of institutional settings. Participants were mainly female and most were community representatives from different villages, with the final workshop in Busembatia, attracting representatives from every region in Uganda (see photo below). It is expected that each village representative will report back to their villager compatriots on their experience and the knowledge acquired from participating in the Moringa programme, thus widely diffusing the vital nutrition message. One very satisfying result is that the three main community plant nurseries in Mbale – Namakula, Khanakwa and Namili, each producing thousands of additional Moringa seedlings, have now had a demand from locals after hearing about the benefits of Moringa, not only for families but for the health of their zero-grazed cows and increasing milk yields.
The three community nurseries in Mbale district between them produced over 6000 Moringa seedlings for the programme workshops: Images top left: David Makwasi and his wife at the Namili village nursery – top right: BRDC officer in charge of tree planting Jonathon Masette at Namabasa nursery – bottom: Alex Malingha and his wife at the Kanakwa nursery.
Since the workshops there has been a steady demand from the villagers for the seedlings.
Workshop on the 7th July in Busembatia District held under some majestic mango trees. This was attended by elders and professionals from a wide range of districts, covering all regions of Uganda. The workshop delivered in English was translated into Luganda and Ateso. Educational handouts also were made in Lugisu and Swahili.
Limitations of the programme
A very tight schedule prevented direct visits to schools as had been originally intended. Instead, several workshops were attended by teachers and on two occasions by some senior students. One workshop in Bulambuli district had to be cancelled due to bad road conditions resulting from heavy rain. Some of the educational resources had to be edited and re-translated which took up precious time, so it was unfortunate that the planned workshop at the nutrition unit at Mbale referral hospital had to be postponed until the next visit planned for February 2018 to further evaluate progress on the uptake of Moringa in household diet.
Recommended documents for further information:
1. The Cost of Hunger in Uganda: implications on National Development & Prosperity.
(2013World Food Programme). https://www.wfp.org/content/cost-hunger-uganda
2. Guidelines on Maternal Nutrition in Uganda. (2014 Ministry of Health). http://www.health.go.ug/docs/Gl_MN.pdf
3 .Eastern Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Scoping Study: Ethiopia, Kenya & Uganda
. FAO 2016. East Africa climate-smart agriculture scoping study
4. Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application. In: Food Science and Human Wellness. One 2016 pp 49-56.
6. ilovemoringa..com (a comprehensive and non-technical account on all aspects of the
benefits of the moringa plant).
7. Use this link to download a pdf detailing the nutritional content of Moringa leaves Moring Leaf Powder Nutrition