Action Against Hunger’s vision is of a world without hunger

Systems Enhancement for Transformative Health (SETH) Project

WHAT IS THE SETH PROJECT?

The Systems Enhancement for Transformative Health (SETH) project first aims to improve maternal, adolescent, and child nutrition through promotion of local feeding and care practices, nutritious foods, and supplements. The project also strengthens the effectiveness of community referral systems for malnourished children to access care, increases awareness of existing health services, and reinforces health systems in our two targeted countries of action, Guatemala and Kenya.

This project focuses on achieving the following results:

  • Improved delivery of essential health and nutrition services;
  • Improved health and nutrition practices of women of reproductive age, boys and girls; and
  • Increased inclusion of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition services in local and national policies and programs.

Throughout the project, Action Against Hunger and our partners also simultaneously address wider nutrition security issues related to access to food and income. Moreover, in line with Action Against Hunger’s commitment to strengthening gender sensitivity in our projects and our engagement with gender mainstreaming, the SETH project aims to respond to the specific needs of women, especially women of reproductive age, men, girls and boys in our targeted regions.

 

WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE SETH PROJECT?

Through the Partnerships for Strengthening Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PSMNCH) commitments made by the Government of Canada, Action Against Hunger is directly contributing to the reduction of maternal and child mortality of more than 1.6 million women, men, girls, and boys in both countries by 2020.

WHY DOES THIS PROJECT MATTER?

The past few decades have witnessed major improvements in reducing maternal and child mortality. The mortality rate for children under five years of age has halved since 1990, with maternal mortality falling by 45%. And yet, avoidable deaths of newborns, infants and pregnant women remain at unacceptably high levels, despite the fact that proven, effective low-cost interventions for addressing the causes of these deaths are now more widely known.
Through the Canadian Government’s engagement and leadership on maternal, newborn and child health, Canadians have manifested their concern and commitment to addressing these issues. In response, the SETH project has been designed to influence the reduction of maternal and child mortality rates and of malnutrition in Guatemala and Kenya.


© Celia González Otálora for Action Against Hunger

OUR PARTNERS

In addition to its core partnership with the Government of Canada, Action Against Hunger works on this project in collaboration with a range of partners in Guatemala and Kenya, including but not limited to the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, the Kenyan Ministry of Health, Doctors of the World, Helen Keller International and the Association of Research and Social Studies (ASIES).

 

WHY CHOOSE GUATEMALA AND KENYA?

Action Against Hunger selected these two seemingly unconnected countries as a way to draw learning from the distinct contexts in each country and foster a global exchange.

Over the last 20 years, both countries have experienced declining rates of acute malnutrition. However, they also both continue to struggle with chronic malnutrition and health systems inadequately equipped to manage essential interventions throughout the continuum of care. Acute malnutrition, also known as wasting, is caused by a decrease in food consumption and/or an illness, resulting in sudden weight loss or edema. Conversely, chronic malnutrition, or stunting, occurs over time and causes another form of growth failure: a chronically malnourished child often appears to be normally proportioned, but is actually shorter than normal for his/her age.

Action Against Hunger’s longstanding experience in both countries is also an advantage. We have fostered a strong commitment from, and partnership with, those communities in which we work, as well as durable relationships with the organizations and governments with which we collaborate.


© Marvin Castañeda for Action Against Hunger

SETH IN GUATEMALA

In Guatemala, we are working in the department of Chiquimula, located in what is known as the “dry corridor,” an area of Central America suffering from recurrent droughts. In Chiquimula, the rate of chronic malnutrition is 55.6%, but in some areas, such as the Ch’orti’ Region, the rate is as high as 60%. This area is home to a majority population of Indigenous Ch’orti’ people and, similar to the situation of many Indigenous peoples in Canada, poverty disproportionately affects Indigenous populations in Guatemala. Over three quarters of Indigenous Guatemalans are struggling with poverty, and Indigenous mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Indigenous women.
In Guatemala, food insecurity does not result from inadequate national or local food supplies, but instead from the inability of the poor to access food due to lack of income. Indeed, every year in rural areas, seasonal acute malnutrition increases dramatically between May and August, during the “hunger season,” the time when the previous year’s harvest stocks have dwindled, food prices are high, and temporary jobs are scarce. Food consumption decisions and feeding practices also have a significant impact on how food is utilized.

We are working with our partners, the Government of Canada and most importantly the communities in Chiquimula to:

  • Enhance families’ access to nutritious food and supplements;
  • Increase knowledge of communities on optimal maternal, newborn and child health feeding and care practices;
  • Improve the provision of health and nutrition services to the population, with a focus on maternal and child health care;
  • Train health personnel to collect, record and analyze disaggregated data on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, thus improving the capacity of local institutions to manage health information systems; and
  • Increase the availability of evidence-based knowledge on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition for decision-makers in Guatemala.

Please contact us to learn more. You can also act right now to improve the lives of Guatemalan children and their family by donating to Action Against Hunger!


© Celia González Otálora for Action Against Hunger

SETH IN KENYA

In Kenya, maternal, newborn and child health has improved steadily over the last decade and the prevalence of undernutrition has reduced in most parts of the country. These achievements should not, however, hide the high levels of inequities that continue to affect most parts of Kenya. Large parts of the population do not yet benefit from the country’s progress and prove to be the hardest to reach, with little access to health services.
To support the country in addressing this situation, the SETH project is strengthening the health systems of five counties in Kenya –Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Trans-Nzoia and West Pokot – to ultimately improve quality, availability and access to maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition services.

We are working with our partners, the Government of Canada and most essentially with the County Health Management Teams in the five counties in Kenya to:

  • Improve the provision of health and nutrition services to the population through:
    • coaching of the County Health Management Teams to strengthen their capacity to analyze the health situation in their county and plan for the most adequate responses, and to strengthen their managerial capacity; and
    • working with the County Health Management Teams to address the inefficiencies identified in the health system at county level, and improve cooperation between the various levels of the county health system;
  • Increase awareness and knowledge of health workers on optimal maternal, newborn and child health feeding and care practices, so they can educate communities;
  • Train health personnel to collect, record and analyze disaggregated data on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, thus improving the capacity of local institutions to manage health information systems; and
  • Increase the availability of evidence-based knowledge on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition for decision-makers in Kenya.

Please contact us to learn more. You can also act right now to improve the lives of Kenyan children and their family by donating to Action Against Hunger!

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

The SETH project plays a crucial role in improving maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition in Guatemala and Kenya. More resources are needed to implement the project to its full potential, meet the needs of the communities, and make a long-lasting difference in the lives of many Guatemalan and Kenyan women and children.

You can transform the lives of children and their family through the SETH project by making a donation to Action Against Hunger.


Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada (GAC).