Ballymena & Antrim Times reporter Lorna McKay has been spending the week in Zambia covering the work of Concern in the region.
Joining her on the trip are Rose Caldwell, Executive Director of Concern UK, Darren Vaughan, Concern NI press officer, and Judith Hill and cameraman Tommy Hassan from UTV.
The group are viewing at first hand Concern’s RAIN project in the Mumbwa district.
RAIN - Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition - aims to prevent child and maternal malnutrition among poor rural communties.
The project has been set up in a bid to tackle chronic under-nutrition in the country where one in two children are considered to be stunted.
It is hoped that the project, which was launched in the area in 2011, will then roll out across other areas.
Danielle Harvey, Concern Country Director for Zambia, said: “If we can improve nutrition, we can reverse those effects.
“If we can make those changes before a child reaches two, it can make all the difference.
“If you can produce food rich in nutrients, and eat that food all year round, it can improve the nutrition of both mother and child.”
The project aims to educate local women on growing nutritious food, something they wouldn’t normally have a say over as this has been primarily the man’s decision.
Through RAIN, it is hoped that through the education programme, husbands will see the benefit to their family by allowing some of their land to be used to grow nutritious crops.
On the first day of the trip, the group travelled to Muchena Village in the Milandu ward.
The group were treated to a warm welcome by Mainess Munamalambo and her husband Shadreck Hanga’ndo and friends from the local women’s group.
Mainess is a beneficiary of Concern’s RAIN initiative and husband Shadreck is extremely supportive and enthusiastic about their participation in the project.
Through the RAIN project, Mainess, with the help of Shadreck, has established a vegetable garden, growing 11 different crops for the household’s needs.
Among the crops Mainess and her husband are growing are carrots, tomato, spinach, onion, cow peas, sweet potato, giant rape, and okra.
The garden is extremely self sufficient with goat manure - from goats provided by Concern - used to fertilise the garden.