Kinder–Gardens: let's improve the nutrition of Xin Man district's children
Nutrition and education
The project will take place in Ha Giang, one of the poorest provinces of Vietnam, located in the north of the country, on the Chinese border. The population is about 800,000 people, 90% of whom belong to ethnic minorities (Mong, Tay, Dao, Nung, Giay, La Chi and Hoa). Living conditions are very harsh due to the isolation of the area and the difficulties of access, with a mountainous area, covered by low-altitude forests and bare land at altitudes, which makes access and transport in the area slow and complicated. In addition, access to water is limited and this reduces agricultural production, making it dependent on seasonal rainfall. Because of this isolation, public services for the local population are often very limited.
Most of the population speaks the language of their ethnic minority, while the Vietnamese language, which is essential for access to services, is only learned at school. As a consequence, access to school is the main tool to ensure equity and access to rights, as it allows people to communicate with government offices, participate in training opportunities, understand their rights. The phenomenon of children dropping out of school is however widespread, as their help is often required by the family in agricultural work.
The local population is almost exclusively engaged in agriculture, growing rice, corn and cassava. It is basically subsistence farming and families rarely have monetary resources available to supplement their diet, which is almost exclusively made up of rice, vegetables and tofu and sees a shortage of animal protein. Rice is often the only cereal in the diet and vegetables are eaten boiled or fried, with a reduction in nutritional substances.
In schools a very poor lunch is provided to the students daily, as each school has a public fund equivalent to about 0,30€/meal/child: the meal is therefore mainly made up of rice to which, only a couple of times a week, pork is added. The person in charge of cooking for the school is paid by the children's families, for a fee of about 80€ per month, a contribution that is required from families who are already very poor and who struggle to provide an adequate diet for their children.
In particular, the project will take place in kindergartens located in the municipalities of Coc Pai, Nam Dan and Ta Nhiu, in Xin Man District, Ha Giang Province. GTV has been working in this district since 2018 with development cooperation projects (e. g. with the construction of an aqueduct completed in 2020 and the reconstruction of several schools and kindergartens), also supporting 100 local children with the Distance Support programme and offering responsible tourism itineraries for Italian travellers. GTV has therefore developed a stable knowledge and relationship with local institutions and schools in different municipalities.
These three villages are home to 12,950 people, including 1,400 children aged between 3 and 5 years old, attending local kindergartens. According to data provided by the Municipal Health Centers, 17% of children living in these three municipalities are undernourished and 32% are underdeveloped in height (data "Communal Health Centers" by Coc Pai, Nam Dan and Ta Nhiu, November 2020).
The general objective of the project is to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 2 “Zero Hunger” for the Xin Man district (Northern Vietnam), namely “to end hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. ”
The specific objective is to improve the quality of nutrition for children attending kindergartens in three municipalities located in the Xin Man district.
- Organisation of management networks in each school and soil identification:
For each vegetable garden that will be created in the schools, GTV will initially make contact with all local stakeholders (teachers, competent local authorities, parents) to create a management network of the gardens.
The management network of each school will identify the land for the vegetable garden, which will be provided free of charge by the local authorities to the school for a period of at least three years and which will meet certain criteria established by the management network in order to obtain sufficient production to feed the students and be easy to manage (size, proximity to the school, quality of the land, etc. ).
This body will also define how to take care of the vegetable garden during the school year and the summer period and will be responsible for the cultivation and sustainability of the project after the first year.
- Creation of vegetable gardens and cultivation:
For each model, the project will provide the material to delimit and protect the cultivated land (with railings, nets and gates), seeds and plants to be cultivated (preferring fruit and vegetables that yield in a few months and are nutritious, in accordance with the management networks), fertilizers and tools needed.
The aim is to create five vegetable gardens in five different kindergartens belonging to three municipalities in the Xin Man district (Coc Pai, Nam Dan and Ta Nhiu).
The cultivation will be carried out by the teachers and parents, following the modalities which the management networks will define.
The products that will be collected will be cooked in the school’s kitchens and will complement the students' daily food. After the first year, for which the project will also provide seeds and fertilizers, the garden management networks will commit themselves to retrieving these consumables for the following years, in order to ensure the sustainability of the project for at least three years.
- Training on proper nutrition – to be confirmed
If it is possible – thanks to the funding that will be collected – in each of the three municipalities where the vegetable gardens will be implemented, GTV will organise a training on the topic of proper nutrition. An expert trainer on the subject, after analyzing the context and the food available to local families, will hold a day of training in each municipality. Teachers and families from the municipality will be invited to participate (by extending the activity also to teachers and parents from schools not part of this project, to increase the impact of the course itself).
LThrough the partnership with local authorities, teachers and parents, the aim is to create five vegetable gardens in five local kindergartens for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, which will complement the lunches offered by the schools, for the benefit of about 125 children in total. Training on proper nutrition for parents and teachers will also be organised and the management of the vegetable gardens will be monitored through meetings organised by GTV and regular missions. The ultimate goal will be to support local communities in finding innovative ways to best integrate the diet of young students, now very poor and insufficient to provide the nutrients needed for their growth.
POPULAR COMMITTEE OF XIN MAN DISTRICT
IN HA GIANG PROVINCE