What is the Hawa Effect?

“Before Hawa, we were living in darkness. Since she has come here, children are healthier and mothers are happier.”

Hawa is one of many community health workers trained by our partner Action Against Hunger. She can spot signs of malnutrition, diagnose severe acute malnutrition, and treat with a three-week course of life-saving food aid. With Hawa’s guidance, the therapeutic food is getting into the hands of those who need it most and many lives have been saved. 

Severe acute malnutrition rates are high in many parts of the world, despite the fact that it is predictable, preventable and treatable. Part of the challenge is education, often parents aren’t able to recognize their children’s sickness before it gets serious. Another challenge is distance, many health centers are miles away from home.

To bridge this gap, our partners have trained community health workers, most of whom are women. They are able to gain the skills and tools they need to both diagnose and treat malnutrition cases in the villages where they live and work, catching cases earlier and easing the challenges on families.

This is the Hawa Effect: community health workers are breaking the cycle by teaching families how to prevent malnutrition.

“If we continue with treatment and we educate mothers, it is possible to stop malnutrition.” – Naré Tounkara, matron of the Boudofo Community Health Center in Kita, Mali.

“My life has changed a lot. I’m happier now that my children can easily access fruits, I no longer have to buy onions, eggplants and Sukuma so I’m able to save money for other household expenses and for educating my children. My children are healthy, and they no longer frequently get sick as they used to.”

In her role as a volunteer, Poni shares what she learned with her neighbors, showing them how to plant and help their crops grow.

Poni George

Since COVID-19 hit, humanitarian support has been reduced due to movement restrictions, limited supplies, and funding issues. Rebeca had to find other ways of feeding my children.

“I’m grateful to Action Against Hunger for the seeds that they distributed to us. I have planted many of them as you can see, the fruit trees we planted last year have all matured and my children enjoy eating them.”

Through learning skills through Action Against Hunger’s agriculture training program. She’s been able to grow crops like Sukuma wiki, passion fruit, pawpaw trees, onions, and sweet potatoes. She has also helped her neighbors set up their own gardens.

Rebecca Buol Makech

Laker learned how to cultivate mushrooms in 2019. Her business took off, and her success has inspired many of her neighbors. When COVID-19 hit, the lockdown in Uganda affected her mushroom growing - she could not access the raw materials, particularly the mushroom spawn, needed for production.

“From my mushroom savings, I bought a few vegetable seeds and, with the help from Action Against Hunger staff, we set up nursery beds of onions and Sukuma wiki… My vegetables are doing so well. Together with my children, we set up more nursery beds, I hope to sell the surplus from my harvest and invest more in my mushroom production.”

Laker Lucy