Hospital to the Farm, the Case Of Old Town Mother-To-Mother Support Group, Marsabit County

For many mothers in Marsabit County, life is about child bearing and taking care of their households.

However, a new phase of life for twenty mothers in started in January 2015, following a visit by USAID funded Resilience and Economic Growth in Arid Lands (REGAL-IR) staff to Marsabit County Hospital.

After attending sensitization sessions provided by REGAL-IR, twenty women (3 pregnant and 17 lactating mothers) came together and formed a Mother-to-Mother Support Group (MTMSG) christened “Old Town MTMSG” to advocate for better nutrition in the community.

The mothers used to meet once a month at the Marsabit health centre before relocating to the village where they now congregate once a week at a member’s house. In May 2015, the group established a model vegetable garden with support from REGAL-IR’s partner GAIN that is transforming their dietary diversity.

The model garden is expected to provide an opportunity for increased vegetable consumption and serve as an alternative income generating activity for the members.  Community garden projects, such as this one Marsabit is being used as part of REGAL-IR strategy  to bring pastoralists together and help them learn how to grow diversified nutritious foods such as tomatoes, spinach, kales and many other crops. The eventual impact, this group hopes, will be steady incomes for many more vegetable  farmers, and improved health.

To reach out to other mothers in the community, the group has composed a song advocating for good maternal infant and young child nutrition. During the 2015 Malezi Bora week, the representative of Marsabit County Health Management Team (CHMT), James Kamotho commended the group saying:

“I encourage more mothers to join the mother to mother support group and follow the footsteps of the Old Town MTMSG. They will learn more on infant and young child nutrition and become role models in the community”.

A husband to one of the group member, Mr. Galgallo Boru has this to say about the group

“When my wife first joined the group, I thought it was a waste of time since she used to attend meeting twice every month. I disputed it bitterly and often had quarrels with her whenever she returned home from the meeting”. Months later, continued Mr Boru “I have noticed a lot of changes in our son who is now 18 months old. We rarely take him to hospital for treatment, except for growth monitoring. This is when I started appreciating the benefits of the mothers ‘group. l admire their income generating activities. We should also be supported to form a fathers’ group that will work hand in hand with mothers.”

By: Christine Nyaga, Programme Coordinator, GAIN