Nkwanta South District, Ghana – On January 27, community members gathered with village chiefs, national, and international dignitaries for a ribbon-cutting at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Center in Nkwanta South District. The center is the first of its kind for the region and for Ghana, and will play a critical role in planned prevention of malnourishment for children under the age of five. USAID/Ghana Deputy Mission Director Andy Karas called it, “a hub of hope.”
The Nutrition Rehabilitation Center (NRC) grew from the grass roots development initiative of a Peace Corps Volunteer who worked with both USAID/Ghana and the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation/ Humanitarian Assistance Africa Command (AFRICOM) to bring the vision to life. The construction of the NRC was a humanitarian aid project led by the U.S. Department of Defense. The US Government contributed a total of $639,700 USD for the project. AFRICOM, with oversight by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), contributed two-thirds of the funding for the project while USAID/Ghana provided the final third with additional support with training programs and medical supplies.
The NRC will be a critical addition to the community, given the high levels of poor nutrition in the Volta region. A total of 27% of all children in the region are stunted (too short for their age) due to malnourishment, which has been proven to cause cognitive delays and poor school performance. Further, a full 79% of children in the Volta region are anemic.
Themes including partnership and hope resonated across all of the speakers’ remarks. Representing AFRICOM, Major Mark McEvers, Bilateral Affairs Officer for Ghana, Togo, and Benin, stressed the critical need to build the capacity of Nkwanta and the Volta Region to treat malnourishment for the most vulnerable of the population, children below the age of five.
Using local materials and construction practices, the NRC building includes eight patient rooms, toilet and bathing facilities, a kitchen, four staff rooms, four storage rooms, a weighing and treatment area, a reception area, and a large open room. The building also utilizes a 100 cubic meter rainwater-harvesting cistern for rain collection from the main building roof.
USAID/Ghana contributed a number of resources to the project including beds, linens, cold chain equipment, medical supplies, and stationary. Within the next three months, USAID will deliver therapeutic milk and biscuits, scales and height boards, as well as Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food. USAID plans to continue working with Nkwanta North and South through the USAID/Systems for Health project to end preventable child and maternal death over the next five years. It is expected that the Systems for Health project will work with the District Authorities and District Health Management Team to assess how to best build a system for effective referrals to the Nkwanta nutritional rehabilitation center through the successful Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative.