Monday, January 5, 2015

The strange Dirt/dried Clay cravings of Women and PiF in Africa

In Africa women have all sorts of cravings especially during pregnancy. There is one very strange craving, dirt or dried clay craving. When asked how really good dirt/clay tastes, they say, it smells the way ground smells when it’s real dry and a little sprinkle of rain falls. There is really only one way to find out though, you can head out to the garden and try some yourself.

Is this dirt just picked from the ground and eaten? NO!! This dirt/dried clay is clean fresh dug from the subsurface of the ground, in some instances roasted, packed and has brown, cream or white color. You can find this in most supermarkets especially in Kenya, and that explains why as many as 56% of pregnant women eat dirt/dried clay in Kenya. Some women normally prefer the dirt/dried clay, found on ant hills which am told tastes really good as well.  This picture shows some of the dirt/dried clay sold in a market in Dar-er-saalam Tanzania ready to eat.

The nutritive value and danger of eating clay.
The reason why women develop these cravings is not currently identified; however, am told it may be connected to an iron deficiency. Some people speculate that, eating dirt is an attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption. Others say that clay is easily digestible and most people who practice geophagy make sure they are eating clean or fresh earth from subsurface of the ground. Bacteria, parasites and other pathogens are normally found higher up in the top soil. This explains why the eatable dirt is dug from the subsurface. Eating clay in most cases leads to constipation.

How CBG/Anhart Foundation/CBN
Community Nursing Initiative (CNI) and CoBI are two registered community builders organizations based in Tanzania and DRC. These CBO’s get funding to help the communities living in extreme poverty conditions. One way this happens, is by offering health care seminars to sensitize them concerning various health related issues. Dangers of eating dirt is one of the topics that are normally handled. Not only do they just offer seminars, through the Pay It Forward program, $100 worth of grants are offered for business start up material to various groups of individuals. This in turn helps improve their standards of living and hence good nutritional food to the pregnant women.

Below are some of the pictures showing seminars that are offered in various areas, but I must confess I occasionally have these strange cravings.

CoBI staff Rose and Francine, sensitizing members of Mumosho village in DRC Bukavu.

This is a water point in Kasanga Sumbawanga, where the ladies get water for domestic use. Bertha from CNI in partnership with Kasanga dispensary, work together to sensitize them on health related issues.

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