UNITLIFE, a United Nations initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition through innovative partnerships with businesses, and GOAL have launched a project that aims to sustainably improve the nutrition of over 283,000 people, half whom are women and girls.
In Niger, 49% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, while a staggering 90% do not eat a diet that is sufficiently div
erse to meet minimum nutrient needs. It is estimated that 43% of child deaths in Niger are linked to undernutrition, and the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 will place even more children at risk as parents have less money to afford nutritious foods.
In the Zinder region, where UNITLIFE and GOAL have l
aunched the new project, as many as 53% of children are affected by chronic malnutrition.
With women at the center of its actions, the project has three main areas of intervention:
- supporting the capacity of a local business to provide women smallholders farmers with access to biofortified seeds to improve the nutrient content of crops such as millet, beans, and vegetables;
- supporting women’s access to habanaye, a revolving goat bank system, to increase access to fresh goat milk (a good source of protein and calcium) and provide a source of revenue for women and
- increasing awareness about good nutrition among women and its vital importance for children as well as training them on early detection of acute malnutrition.
Assia Sidibe leads the UNITLIFE’s Secretariat: “UNITLIFE is very excited to partner with GOAL. This project will reach thousands of people with grains and vegetables that are biofortified, a cost-effective method to provide last mile farmers with essential nutrients missing from their diets without changing their eating habits. Women will be at the center of the action, as they are the ones growing food, cooking the meals, and feeding their families and communities.”
GOAL Country Director for Niger, Leo Buhendwa, said: “With this project, we aim to implement a sustainable response to the prevention of chronic malnutrition. We want to create ownership of the malnutrition problem within the communities through the women, empowering them to gain greater control over their lives and livelihoods. Partnering with UNITLIFE allows us to lay the foundations of a more prosperous future for the next generations.”
The project will reach over 18,600 people through targeted support, and 264,000 people through a mass awareness campaign on good nutrition during the pilot phase of 18 months.
The US$500,000 budget is paid for by UNITLIFE, thanks to the support of its financial partner Reaching the Last Mile initiative. UNITLIFE is exploring additional funding options to extend the length of the project. GOAL is the implementation agency.
About chronic malnutrition
Chronic malnutrition is a disease that develops when children who do not receive the nutritious food they need during the first 1,000 days of their life (through a women’s pregnancy and until the child’s second birthday). The consequences of chronic malnutrition – stunted growth, impaired brain development, and a weakened immune system – are largely irreversible, preventing affected children from reaching their full potential. Today, 1 in 5 children worldwide are chronically malnourished. Compared with their peers, they will struggle to do as well in school and will on average earn 20% less income as adults. In addition to the human tragedy, chronic malnutrition is an enormous obstacle to countries’ economic development. In Africa, where chronic malnutrition affects 1 in every 3 children, the cost of undernutrition is estimated at up to 16% of GDP in some countries. Despite affecting 144 million children worldwide, chronic malnutrition remains little known.
UNITLIFE is the United Nations initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition through innovative partnerships with businesses.
UNITLIFE finances nutritious food systems and invests in women’s empowerment and climate-smart agriculture. With this approach, UNITLIFE aims to save the next generation.
For more information, visit: https://www.unitlife.org/homepage
GOAL is an international humanitarian and development agency which is committed to working with communities to achieve sustainable and innovative early response in crises, and lasting solutions to poverty and vulnerability. Currently operational in 14 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, GOAL has supported vulnerable communities in over 60 countries over the last 40 years.
For more information, visit: https://www.goalglobal.org/
About Reaching the Last Mile initiative:
Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) represents the philanthropic global health initiatives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. RLM is committed to ending preventable diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, while tackling systemic development issues in order to build stronger, more resilient health systems.
For more information, visit: https://www.reachingthelastmile.com/