Monday, May 17, 2010

Successes: Nutrition in Bolivia, LDS

The April Ensign reports on LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons) development assistance efforts in Bolivia. From the description in the article, the church is following a lot of best practices.

"Project leaders worked closely with local government and community leaders to decide together what needs the Church could meet and to involve the community more heavily in the projects. ... Since the funding for the programs lasts only for a limited time, the Church involved local ... leaders, physicians, health officials, and residents in hopes that the results would last."

Local leaders in El Alto identified four primary needs two years ago: remodel the hospital, train people in gardening and nutrition, train doctors in neonatal resuscitation and provide supplies for it, and wheelchairs. So the Church arranged for training of another 150 midwives in neonatal resuscitation, provided supplies for the hospital and thousands of wheelchairs, used churches for nutrition training meetings, and taught urban dwellers about square foot gardening and provided some start up seeds. Initial recipients then spread the knowledge and some seeds to neighbors who have spread the information yet further. They are also teaching urban gardening in La Paz and raising micro-livestock.

Community leaders in Suriquiña wanted to reduce malnutrition from 50 percent of children to 10 percent. At Church buildings, members of the community were taught how to build adobe block greenhouses with a goal to have each participating household set up two greenhouses: one for own consumption and one for products to sell. Now, "for the first time, [they] started growing and eating cucumbers, lettuce, beets and other healthful plants." By next year, there should be about 100 greenhouses up and some children are already showing marked improvement.

"One of our goals is to help people set their own course and solve their own problems. We're confident that with a little bit of help where needed and inspiration from the Lord, they can and will improve conditions for their families."

The Benson Institute was heavily involved in the efforts. They commented that, "The majority of the people eat only meat products and potatoes, and they really don't have any other types of foods such as vegetables, which are needed for them to receive vitamins." So they have also been teaching residents how to eat prepare and eat vegetables safely.

Residents in and out of the church are commenting on their children's improved health and abilities at school.

Additional information on the communities and efforts can be found here. Other LDS efforts worldwide include a new, free employment website with over 250,000 job listings at the moment and reports of LDS efforts and perspective in Haiti can be found here and here.

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