Improved leadership and governance for better nutrition

Ten years of work in improving health leadership and governance allowed the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) to tackle challenges not only limited to maternal and child health but other areas of Filipino health as well.

These include primary health care, nutrition, and resiliency, among others.

In those years, some alumni leaders from different partner local government units (LGUs) have re-enrolled in other ZFF leadership and governance programs optimistic that the continued partnership would further improve and sustain their respective health programs.

Such is the case of Gamay, Northern Samar whose local chief executive and members of health core group are now in the second year of ZFF’s nutrition program in partnership with Switzerland-based Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation.

The Nutrition and Health Leadership (NutriHeaL) Program aims to strengthen local nutrition systems to reduce stunting and other forms of malnutrition.

Gamay ranked third highest in the region in terms of under-2 stunting and wasting in 2017.

The LGU representatives were trained to understand the issues concerning nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive needs of pregnant women and children 0-23 months old (First 1,000 days population group).

In addressing the nutrition-sensitive needs like food sufficiency, the municipality rallied for an intensified campaign on backyard gardening which was also in line with this year’s nutrition month theme of “Ugaliing Magtanim, Sapat na Nutrisyon Aanihin.”

A result of a multi-sectoral approach involving municipality’s health and agricultural sectors, seedlings were distributed to the barangays to facilitate the planting of vegetables.

Such activity aimed to address challenges not only in nutrition and food sufficiency but also economic incomes. Produce of barangays was sold in a food fair on July 27, a nutrition month culminating activity which the municipality hopes to be sustained in the next years.

Out of the 26 participating barangays, Barangay Malidong was recognized for displaying the most number of varieties of harvests.

To make the initiative more sustainable, the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) drafted ordinances requiring every household to plant kamalunggay/saluyot and barangays and every household in Gamay to have a backyard garden.


Out of the 26 participating barangays in the food fair, Malidong was recognized as the barangay with the most number of harvest varieties displayed.


A lady sells fruits and vegetables harvested from hers and her neighbors’ backyards in the Northern Samar municipality of Gamay, which is the third highest in the region in terms of children’s stunting—low height for age—and wasting—low weight for height. The local government distributed last April seedlings to its 26 barangays to promote backyard gardening, which it sees as addressing challenges in nutrition, food sufficiency, and economic incomes. Such multi-sectoral approach in reducing malnutrition in poor municipalities is the primary goal of a partnership program between the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation and the Zuellig Family Foundation.