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Shell launches program for CamSur children

To prevent growth stunting among children in Camarines Sur, Pilipinas Shell Foundation (PSFI) recently launched its health and nutrition program Roots to Shoots (RTS) in two towns, in partnership with the Manila Water Foundation (MWF) and World Vision Development Foundation (WVDF).

Poor nutrition intake due to disease are among the top causes of growth stunting. Based on National Nutrition Council data, one in every three children in the country experiences stunted growth, the fifth-highest stunting prevalence in the East Asia and Pacific region. Stunting, especially in the first 1000 days of a child’s life, can lead to low school performance and increased chances of getting sick.

Inspired by how plants absorb vital nutrients at the roots in order to grow, the Roots to Shoots program will address growth stunting by preventing malnutrition in Bombon and Pasacao towns through activities related to food security, setting up WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities, and conducting breastfeeding and nutrition sessions among child caregivers.

Turn-over of anthropometric measurement equipment to LGU/RHU Bombon. From left, Dale Kevin S. Egwaras, (RTS Program Coordinator, PSFI), Judy Z. Reforma, (Municipal Health Officer, RHU Bombon), Ma. Luisa DC. Angeles (Municipal Mayor, Bombon), Roberto V. Dazo (Program Manager, WVDF)

“Let’s take this program seriously,” Pasacao Mayor Niño Tayco said during launch of Roots to Shoots in his municipality. “A family’s health is of the utmost importance nowadays.”

PSFI Executive Director Sebastian C. Quiniones, Jr., said, “We are in high hopes that this new program, through close collaboration with trusted and expert organizations and LGUs, will truly bring lasting impact to the communities. We believe in investing in the next generation, and this is our way of ensuring that they and their families are given the opportunity to become responsible and productive members of society.”

RTS’ holistic approach is supported by each foundation taking on a specific role. PSFI leads the food security and livelihood component through the implementation of a capacity-building program, which trains farmers and community members in the use of farming technologies. It also diversifies their livelihoods through finance while providing infrastructure support for community-based enterprises.

MWF, on the other hand, brings in WASH (water access, sanitation, and hygiene) interventions to respond to the need for clean water, safe sanitation, and awareness on good hygiene behaviors.

As for the nutrition education and the mother and child-care components, WVDF will administer related activities that aim to sustainably rehabilitate underweight children while also building the knowledge and skills needed to improve parenting practices at the household level.

The program launch formalized the partnership between PSFI and the two LGUs through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA). Aside from the MOA signings, turn-over ceremonies of anthropometric measurement equipment (e.g. weighing scales, tape measure, calipers, etc.) were also held with representatives of PSFI, WVDF, and Rural Health Units present. This vital equipment will aid the local health workers in assessing and improving the nutritional and growth status of children in the communities.

During the July ceremony in Bombon, Mayor Ma. Luisa DC. Angeles also expressed her appreciation to the program, “On behalf of all the Bomboeños, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our partner-organizations. Thank you, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., World Vision Development Foundation, and the Manila Water Foundation for your dedication to help and to support this kind of program which aims to uplift our fellow countrymen.”

RTS is aligned with the national government’s National Nutrition Month with the theme “Batang Pinoy SANA TALL. Iwas Stunting, SAMA ALL,” which emphasizes that stunting is a preventable illness when mothers are given access to nutrition, health, and social services in the first 1000 days of raising a child.

Now more than ever, it is vital that communities build resilience against health hazards and the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. It all starts with proper healthcare and sufficient nutrition. You can learn more about the Roots to Shoots program by visiting the social media accounts of each respective organization.

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