Fighting malnutrition with fortified foods
The World Food Programme estimates that a basic lack of nutrition accounts for more than one-third of deaths (3.1 million) of kids under five around the globe. A common intervention is a porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals that is found in small shops and major retail outlets. However, the price is out of reach for a majority of rural households. The Ihangane Project (TIP) tackled this challenge in Rwandan communities by supplying a brand of fortified porridge to participants in their Nutrition for HIV-exposed Infants program for free, but the model lacked financial sustainability.
TIP suspected the key to sustainability lay within the community’s local farming coops, which produce the exact grains you find in fortified porridge. Could a community-produced fortified porridge be sold at a price point affordable for local families? They engaged Catapult to help them think through this systems challenge: What tools and skills would be needed? What would the model look like? Working in-country with the TIP team, we mapped our research tracking prices for grains, flour, commercial porridges, and milling services, as well as patterns observed in porridge preparation.
The farmers themselves contributed their ideas as to how to coordinate and simplify productions for a community-produced porridge. The collaboration between TIP, Catapult and the community resulted in a guidebook and communication tool for coops and farmers that illustrates the processes and steps to producing a fortified porridge. TIP now sells the porridge in the community and uses the profits to subsidize costs for NHI program participants, reporting a sustainable business model and decreased malnutrition rates within the community.