Action Africa Help International

AMAMA (=Grandmother): The change-makers for better health of vulnerable children

Water access, sanitation and hygiene

Leverage strengths (nurture, family, values, time, tradition, wisdom, food and fun) of grandmothers to improve health of vulnerable children through sustainable WASH behavior and Nutrition

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Lead Organization

Action Africa Help International

Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Indiscriminate development and conflicts have exacerbated inequity, marginalizing >70 million people globally, particularly children and aged, while damaging the planet. Traditional ways of sustainable living have eroded by excluding the aged from development decisions. Basic amenities of water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) are inaccessible to millions globally, leading to poor nutrition and killing >4000 children every day. Scaled-up, evidence-based solutions are available to improve WASH; yet behavior change among the vulnerable populations has not sustained. AMAMA (=grandmother in Tamil language). A holistic, 2-way community-based, fun learning platform that brings together grandmothers and vulnerable children. Promoting a package of evidence-based interventions to improve WASH behavior and nutritional status among vulnerable children through grandmothers using storytelling, art, music and gardening activities. Respect for the planet and fellow beings would be nurtured. Traditional ways of living would be documented from grandmothers. Nano-enterprise opportunities would be provided to grandmothers. Better health, dignity and bonding- possible.

Problem Statement

Ecosystem-based sustainable ways of living and communityship are being eroded and the aged are excluded from development decisions. Economy driven, rapid development and conflicts have exacerbated inequity in societies and damaged the planet, displacing, marginalizing and disorienting segments of populations, especially children and elderly in developing countries. Millions of children in slums and refugee camps die every year and face a bleak future due to living in cramped, inhuman conditions with poor WASH amenities and poverty. This is a sure-shot formula for infectious diseases and malnutrition. Despite several ongoing evidence-based programs, the vulnerable continue to suffer. WASH behavior change has not sustained. Intervention programs can be more effective if communities are helped to leverage their own strengths to rebuild resilience. Holistic strategies and appropriate interventions championed by members of the communities can help change behavior and mindsets of the vulnerable, sustainably. This program called AMAMA (=grandmother in Tamil) represents the strengths that are essential to rebuild and heal a community, such as nurture, hard work, tradition, time, continuity, food and fun. Research shows that intergenerational care has mutual benefit and enhances overall well-being of both young and old participants. AMAMA, the change-maker would be oriented towards appropriate WASH practices and nutrition. She would use personalized storytelling, art, music and movement to nudge behavior change in children in households and schools. Children would learn to respect the planet and fellow humans and in turn AMAMA gains a sense of purpose, bonding with children and opportunities to earn through nano-enterprises.

Solution Overview

Despite heavy investments, every day >4000 children die everyday globally, due to preventable infectious diseases and poor nutrition. The aged suffer equally and go into depression due to neglect and low self-esteem. WASH and nutrition interventions have been unsustainable probably requiring strategies appropriate to communities and their living conditions.The project partners will join hands in creating a fun learning platform that will bring together grandmothers and children in vulnerable communities in India, Kenya and Uganda in their respective geographies. Grandmothers would be oriented about good WASH, nutrition and health practices for promotion in households and schools. Appreciative Inquiry would be used to motivate grandmothers to leverage their inherent qualities of nurture, tradition, wisdom, food and fun in order to nudge behavior change among children. Storytelling, art, music and crafts would be means used by grandmothers to nurture good habits for life among children for primary healthcare, including WASH, nutritious eating and movement. They will imbibe ways of sustainable living from grandmothers by engaging in gardening, cooking, cleaning and other hobbies. Grandmothers’ groups would be encouraged to set up nano-enterprises for making and selling home-grown produce, hygiene products as well as artisan materials. They would gain a sense of purpose in the community and bond with children. It will provide them with opportunities to contribute, earn and learn. With documentation of processes, Project Amama would be a sustainable, scalable way to achieve primary health of displaced and vulnerable children, building better environments and happier communities.

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