| Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province |
|5. Nutritional status of children in Red Sea Province, November 1985 to November 1987. Mary Cole and Roy Cole|
The tendency has been for Oxfam to use the nutritional status of children as an indicator of the wellbeing of the community and to provide general assistance with the hope that benefits will reach all sections within the community. Improving the nutritional status and hence the health and welfare of children in Red Sea Province should become 1) a practical programme goal with both long-term development initiatives and immediate targeted interventions, and 2) focused on gender issues. If Oxfam is not to do this directly, it should act as an advocate with government and other agencies to promote the interests of women and children.
Oxfam should take the initiative in developing innovative ways of assessing nutritional status in the field. The Oxfam philosophy of the bottom-up approach should not be restricted-to development. What is needed in Red Sea Province is a greater understanding of the Beja perceptions of normal and abnormal child health and development. Appropriate local cut offs could then be used alongside the international standards for measuring nutritional status which are currently accepted by donors. This would greatly enhance our ability to both plan programmes and evaluate changes in the field in a context which is appropriate for the local people. Methodological issues which have arisen as a result of Oxfam's experiences in Red Sea Province should be addressed promptly and incorporated into guidelines that could be used in the event of future relief efforts in Red Sea Province.