Sweet potatoes roped in to help fight malnutrition

Social development MEC Siphokazi Lusithi gets her Covid-19 jab
STAYING SAFE: Social development MEC Siphokazi Lusithi gets her Covid-19 jab
Image: SUPPLIED

Eastern Cape social development MEC Siphokazi Lusithi is to launch an initiative called Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes in a bid to fight malnutrition in the province.

The project is part of a month-long campaign by Lusithi’s office to mark Women’s Month and increase female-based initiatives.

In a statement on Monday, Lusithi said each sphere of society in the province, from health and the economy to security and social protection, had been negatively affected by Covid-19.

She said the effects had been more severe on women and girls by virtue of their vulnerability.

Social development provincial spokesperson Mzukisi Solani said Lusithi would launch several initiatives during August to bolster women’s economic rights and food security and celebrate the legacy of struggle stalwart Charlotte Maxeke.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected society, especially women, in countless ways,” he said.

“What was initially a health crisis has affected the economy, health, education, food security and gender equality.

“Women also face the second pandemic of gender-based violence, as well as the economic impacts of Covid-19.

“Economic empowerment has long been considered a key component in structural interventions to reduce gender inequality and the experience of gender-based violence among women.”

Lusithi said: “One of the negative impacts of Covid-19 for women has been food insufficiency and hunger.

“In many instances, this leads to malnutrition of their children.

“We partnered with the health department in our Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes campaign to ensure that we fight vitamin deficiency in women and child malnutrition in the OR Tambo district.”

The orange-fleshed sweet potato is promoted for alleviation of vitamin-A deficiency in many parts of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and East Asia.

Solani said it was considered a great food source in the country.

“A recent survey indicated that 43.6% of children 1-5 years old and 27% of women of reproductive age are vitamin-A deficient,” he said.

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