Community Service Action: Measuring for Malnutrition

On May 1st and 9th 2014, students at Centre Salisa School, in Mpasa II, participated in a Community Service Action (CSA). During these two days, thirty of the students demonstrated their leadership skills and their personal sense of duty to execute a project that will have lasting effects on their community. The students conducted a scientific survey of the state of nutrition in Mpasa II. In this community activity, students and teachers went into Mpasa II to screen for malnutrition in children aged 6 to 59 months. Their means of testing was to measure upper arm circumference.

The aim of the students and their teachers was to take measurements that would be used to gauge the state of nutrition in their community, while interacting with caretakers and educating members of the community about malnutrition. This was as much an exercise in growing leadership skills as it was a scientific measurement.

Students practice for their community service action

Before embarking into the neighborhoods, nutritionist Mr. Lievin conducted the initial three workshops, instructing and guiding the students in how to make the measurements, how to randomize their samples, and how to determine the significance of their findings. According to actionagainsthunger.org, malnutrition leads to “illness and death, reduced educational achievements, productivity and economic capacity, and is one of the principle mechanisms behind intergenerational immobility out of poverty.”

Like the preceding learning modules, the students, their parents, and their teachers chose the topic of nutrition. The research design consists of observation, open-ended and close-ended questions, and structured interviews. In all, 72 households were visited during the CSA, the teams communicated with 73 responsible adults, and they measured the arms of 104 children.

Students measure the arm of a child as an indicator of malnutrition.

 

The next step for the students and teachers is to analyze their data, evaluate their findings, and develop action items based on their findings. They will use their knowledge of the nutrition cycle learned in both the classroom and the field to determine what topic will be next for the on-going learning modules of the students and community at large.