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Community Contribution

Adapting Child Nutrition Screening During the COVID-19 Lock Down in Uganda

Andrea Procopio

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The Graduating to Resilience activity funded by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and led by AVSI Foundation (AVSI) in partnership with IMPAQ International and Trickle Up seeks to test the Graduation Approach’s ability to graduate ultra-poor refugee and host community households in Western Uganda from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience. 

When the Government of Uganda placed the country on full lock-down in response to COVID-19, transportation restrictions limited participant access to healthy foods. Additionally, non-essential businesses closed, reducing income and further threatening childhood nutrition outcomes. Adding to these challenges, due to remote implementation and social distancing, the activity’s monthly nutrition screening could not occur.

To address the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 restrictions and better adapt to remote implementation, the activity created an adaptive scenario planning process through which Family Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC)—an approach where caregivers are trained to conduct child nutrition screening with a coach observing at an acceptable social distance—was first discussed. By collaborating with local implementers to train staff and local government to obtain 4,647 MUAC tapes, the consortium was able to scale Family MUAC to all households with children under five. Reports indicate an increase in the number of referrals for childhood nutrition services due to the implementation of Family MUAC. In addition, the CLA approaches implemented during COVID-19 resulted in positive mindset changes among consortium staff including thinking more creatively, remaining open to new ideas, and being willing to accept failure as an option.

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