Fiji National Food and Nutrition Committee
Region: East Asia + Pacific
Areas of Focus: Food Security and Nutrition
Dates of the project: 1982-1987
In 1980, in an effort to better understand the health and nutritional status of its citizens, the Fijian Government conducted its first National Nutrition Survey. Upon its completion, the Government requested a Food and Nutrition Policy be prepared and submitted to Fijian Cabinet.
Two years later, in 1982, a Food and Nutrition Policy was presented to the Cabinet. It focused on increasing food availability while simultaneously reducing reliance on food imports; reducing low birth weight babies; reducing the level of undernutrition in children 0-5 years; reducing the incidence of goiter; reducing infantile diarrhea, iron deficiency anemia and obesity; improving disaster preparedness; promoting breastfeeding; promoting nutrition training and establishing a system to monitor not only the food and nutrition situation, but to assess actions which could have a major effect on food and nutrition whether positive or negative.
To implement the Food and Nutrition Policy, the National Food and Nutrition Committee (NFNC) was created in 1982.
What We Did
In the 1960’s, FSP/Counterpart International identified maternal and child health care as a major priority in its program initiatives. FSP/Counterpart strove to reduce the mortality rate of children under five years of age by reducing the rate of childhood diseases, while also increasing the nutritional quality of food consumed by both mothers and children.
FSP/Counterpart became a founding partner of the Fiji National Food and Nutrition Committee (NFNC) in 1982. This multi-sectoral committee was charged with coordinating programs and advising the Government of Fiji in all matters relating to the nutrition of the population. The 1982 Food and Nutrition Policy guided their efforts, hoping to increasing food availability, reduce the level of undernutrition in children 0-5 years and promote nutrition training.
As a leader of the NFNC, FSP/Counterpart began working to increase the availability of nutritious food and reduce the rate of malnutrition. Our programming emphasized school gardens as the way to combat malnutrition. Gardens were planted to establish proper nutrition standards; training was given to school dieticians and cooks on sound agricultural techniques and preparation of food; and the schools’ nutrition program was integrated into the local community via Parent Teacher Associations and the families of the school children.
The NFNC produced drastic results among children under five years of age. Before the program began, of the 2,080 preschoolers weighed, 32.4 percent of the Fijian rural children were considered underweight. Fifteen months later, after participating in the program, only 7.4 percent of these same children were classified as underweight (Food and Nutrition in Fiji: A Historical Review).