Emmanuel International Canada’s (EIC) new project called Promoting Maternal, Newborn, Infant and Child Sustainable Health Efforts (PROMISE) embarked on a tree planting expedition in Zomba, Malawi.

Magret Chopi, showing the Pawpaw tree provided to her through the PROMISE Project. 
Picture Henry Manyozo

The PROMISE initiative aims to reduce maternal and child mortality in Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda through an integrated approach focusing on health-service delivery and utilization as well as improved nutrition. It promotes respectful and supportive maternity care, as well as mother and baby-friendly environments. It also fosters engagement by fathers and ensures supportive supervision for new mothers. The initiative is being implemented through a consortium led by the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada in partnership with ADRA Canada and EIC.

EIC is focusing on Malawi in south-eastern Africa. Here, their focus to help improve nutrition by encouraging the planting of back yard fruit trees and gardens.

Each household received training on back yard gardening and tree planting. Planting of six thousand four hundred orange sweet potato vines, other garden seeds including six thousand two hundred mangoes and pawpaw fruit trees will provide much needed help and nutrition to families in Malawi. Community leaders have instigated the program by distributing fruit seedlings and plants creating a healthy future for mothers and children in the community.

Richard McGowan, Executive Director of Emmanuel International said, “The response has been encouraging, with many women, including expectant mothers, having embarked on planting the fruit trees to ensure improved nutrition.”

We have seen a high rate of malnutrition which has brought challenges in underweight babies and stunted growth in children, stated McGowan.

An Ohio State University study found that tropical fruits provide some of the best nutrition and disease-fighting power of any foods.  They found that mangoes and pawpaws provide an excellent source of vitamin A and C which boost body immunity. These fruits can help reduce malnutrition among mothers, pregnant women, and children under 5, lowering the rate of maternal mortality.

Malnutrition is associated with over a third of children’s deaths and is the single most important risk factor in many diseases. A third of all children in the world are underweight or stunted (too short for their age), which are tell-tale symptoms of malnourishment (UN).

In Malawi EIC will be centralizing its efforts among six health clinics and over 300 villages. PROMISE will seek to improve the delivery and utilization of essential health services to mothers, pregnant women and children. EIC will be implementing a second distribution prior to the next rainy season in Malawi for best opportunity for growth.