UNICEF promoting right to food

As one way of celebrating South African first black president, Nelson Mandela’s Day, UNICEF and South Africa in collaboration with Malawi Government on Wednesday used the event to promote the ‘right to food’ in the country.

Speaking at Mzumazi Village in Lilongwe to mark Nelson Mandela’s 100 years, Chief of Nutrition at UNICEF Malawi, Sangita Jacob Duggal said malnutrition remains a challenge and a major contributor to preventable child deaths in the country.

UNICEF supports the Government of Malawi Department of Nutrition HIV and AIDs to plan, manage and carry out quality nutrition interventions. We have adopted Mzumazi Primary school and the village by establishing vegetable gardens in their homes so that they can have nutritious food, Duggal said.

She added that to ensure mothers and children receive life-saving nutrition in times of emergency caused by drought or floods, the project, which promotes backyard gardens, will give families a readily available source of food.

In November, 2009, the UN General Assembly declared July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

She further said that UN recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to services for humanity.

As UN, we want to complement Mandela’s vision for promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups as well as the fight against poverty and promotion of social justice, Duggal explained.

In her remarks, South African High Commissioner to Malawi, Thenjiwe Mtintso said she was grateful to the UN for coming up with a day to celebrate the life of the South African hero, who she described as non-violent, anti-apartheid and a freedom fighter politician.

The UN asks individuals around the world to mark Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18 every year by contributing at least 67 minutes of their time doing voluntary work in and with needy communities, Mtintso said.

According to the South African High Commissioner, the 67 minutes were to signify one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service at that time in 2009.

The 67 minutes have been increased to at least a day and global movement is growing for each one of us to improve each other’s lives. The theme of this international Day is Take Action, Inspire Change, Make Every Day a Mandela Day -a clarion call for everyone to take concrete action and inspire change and create a better world, Mtintso said.

She added that UNICEF proposed Mzumazi Village after realizing that there is need to establish vegetable gardens to address its nutritional deficit.

By establishing these gardens, we wish to assist families to grow their own nutrition vegetables to supplement their meals.

We encourage every family to maintain these gardens and even establish more, so as to be self-reliant when it comes to providing health food for everyone, Mtintso said.

Commenting on the occasion, Group Village Headman Mzumazi thanked UNICEF and the South African Government for coming up with the initiative.

I would like to thank the UN and South African Government for coming here to help us establish these gardens which will help us have nutritious food in our homes.

Source: Malawi News Agency