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Nutri-Meal :Improving Malnourished Children’s Health in Nigeria

We believe that we can end malnutrition and hunger in the world where women and children in remote areas have access to nutritious food.

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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

People Environment and Sustainability Foundation

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Harvest Plus Nigeria, All Farmers Association of Nigeria(AFAN), Human Empowerment and Development Project(HEMADEP). Vika Farms

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.peasfoundationng.org

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Nigeria

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Ikot Ekpene is a city found in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. It is located 5.18 latitude and 7.71 longitudes and it is situated at elevation 89 meters

What country is your selected Place located in?

Nigeria

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Ikot Ekpene, also known as The Raffia City, is a historic town in south-southern state of Akwa Ibom State. Ikot Ekpene is known as a regional center of commerce, with notable exports of palm products, especially palm oil, cassava, corn, yam products.  It links built infrastructure, enhanced education and IT, Agricultural and other co-operatives and micro enterprise with waste management as opportunities to create new income streams and add value to products and services. Our operational office is based in the neighborhood of the communities which we serve. We have fieldworkers who communicate directly with women and children.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Ikot Ekpene is a city found in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. It is located 5.18 latitude and 7.71 longitudes and it is situated at elevation 89 meters above sea level. Ikot Ekpene has a population of 254,806 making it the 2nd biggest city in Akwa Ibom.

Ikot Ekpene has a long history of transforming the raffia fibre into cloth used in shoes, hats, handbags, mats and with distinctive cultural carvings made out of wood. These unique arts and crafts trades have continued alongside traditional agriculture. Ikot Ekpene is also an embodiment of the rich culture and tradition of the Annang people. Festivals are routinely celebrated with dances, cultural displays, and masquerade outings. It is also an important town for commerce, trade, and business. The population is made up primarily of the Annang people with a small number of Igbo traders and Hausa Suya vendors.

Ikot Ekpene can be a foodie’s paradise; lending a much-needed retail counterpoint to all that earnest craft and art exhibits around the city. Favourite food spots include Foodspot and some of the local foods to try include: Ekpang Nkukwo, Afang, Atama Soup and Edikang Ikong .

Ikot Ekpene, also known as The Raffia City, is a historic town in south-southern state of Akwa Ibom State. Ikot Ekpene is known as a regional centre of commerce, with notable exports of palm products, especially palm oil, cassava, corn, yam products.  

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Poorer families often have multiple micro nutrient deficiencies at once. Deficiencies of micro nutrients can condemn a child to lifelong irreversible damage. Lack of Vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness, stunted growth, weakened immunity and high mortality for children under five. According to the World Food Programme:

  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry, with 23 million in Africa alone. With millions of children dying each year from causes related to malnutrition.

Malnourished children are missing key nutrients in their diets, which can hinder brain, bone and immune system development. Most humanitarian food aid is grain, such as corn, which may lack certain essential nutrients for healthy development.

 Many diets, especially those of rural communities, contain insufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals due to lack of variation and/or consumption of predominantly processed foods. Malnutrition is a major problem in Nigeria as the staple diets are, fufu, flour, edita iwa, (chips made from cassava), with little protein and very few vitamins. However, most of the varieties currently grown by women farmers are low yielding, with little protein and very few vitamins. In Nigeria, cassava already plays an important role in food security, but the yellow varieties have the potential to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. Our innovation addresses the needs of mothers by improving access to locally produced, low cost fortified flour. Nutri-Meal is an environmentally sustainable social enterprise that provides training to build cassava farms, improve nutrition, and turn them into vitamins-rich flour that can be incorporated in local staple foods or sold to bakeries and markets.

 This project seeks to address that chronic malnutrition in diverse and interrelated ways, ensuring the viability of the community and their ability to improve their lives. 

Over the past five years, Nutri-Meal has pioneered cassava farmers in Nigeria, built a sustainable supply chain of small cassava farmers and sold flour products in 500 stores. Nutri-Meal has supported 325,000 farmers through climate smart programs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  Our future plan in 2050 is to improve nutrition and livelihoods worldwide, by planting more organically cassava farms, providing 20 million people across Africa with the skills to produce their own low-cost and environmentally sustainable source of vitamins to improve their health.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

To fill the nutrition gap, Nutri-Meal is a social enterprise that addresses the serious health problem of Vitamin A deficiency by fortifying Vitamin A cassava for over 500 million children & young women who are limited by expense & imprecision to access Iron, Vitamin A and Zinc. Nutri-Meal is specially formulated for malnourished children or family use. It provides essential fatty acids required for normal brain development, skin health and immune defense.  Our vision addresses the challenge through many ways: Nutri-Meal partners directly with Nigerian smallholder farmers and increases their access to premium markets in 3 ways across production, processing, and marketing. Also, Nutri-Meal teaches people to build and maintain environmentally sustainable cassava farms and turn cassava into a vitamin rich powder that can improve diets and be sold to increase income. The train-the-trainer model used to teach participants ensures the program is sustainable. By teaching women how to make the nutritious meals into a powder we make it easy for them to incorporate the extra protein and vitamins into the foods they already make, without having to change their dietary habits. This powder is also easy to transport and sell as an additional source of income.

The strategy uses staple flours that are specially formulated to treat severely malnourished kids as delivery vehicles for the critical micro nutrients. We work with women-led farming cooperatives and small family farms around Nigeria to drive economic growth, women’s empowerment and sustainable agricultural development which is in line with SDG (1, 2, 3, 5, 11,12and 13) goals.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Ikot Ekpene, probably more than any other town, was seriously impacted in the Biafran civil war. It had strategic military and political importance to both the Biafrians and Nigerians. The town and the area changed hands at least 3 times in this bitter conflict. About 30% of children suffer chronic malnutrition in Akwa Ibom. About 30 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition in Akwa Ibom State, while more than 5 percent of them are hit by severe acute malnutrition, a condition that could result in stunting, wasting and underweight(Business Day, Nigeria).  For the past six years, we have partnered with Harvest Plus  Nigeria to bring agriculture into the clinical treatment of malnutrition to ensure that, in addition to emergency interventions, families get the seeds, livestock, education and support they need to feed their children and keep them healthy over the long term.

Furthermore, in order to address this crisis, Nutri-Meal operates at the nexus of agriculture and health. We believe that in order for families to break the cycle of poverty and poor health that stems from malnutrition, we need to address its root causes by empowering families to grow nutritious food and giving them the knowledge to keep their children healthy.  So far we have up to 5,000 farmers on our network and we have empowered almost 100,000 households through our advocacy and demonstration farms set up in schools and homes.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The vision continues by educating people how to design their own diets and eat healthy. Finally, they also ensure that people can grow their own source of vitamins. It’s also a way to increase their income through the sale of excess Nutri-Meal powder or garri. The sustainable development goal 2 Zero Hunger, aims to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting (short for age) and wasting in children less than 5 years of age. The mothers, especially in rural communities in Nigeria are not informed about proper nutrition. Hence, they are adopting harmful feeding practices in the name of culture and tradition. Children are also not getting balanced diet even when the essential food are locally available. So, the idea of Nutri-Meal contributes in achieving this SDG-2 by promoting breastfeeding and complementary feeding in first 2 years of child’s life. Furthermore, the idea  is also linked to SDG-5 Gender Equality that is related with enhancing use of enabling technology and empowering of women and girls. In addition to that, Nutri-Meal teaches women to build environmentally sustainable cassava farms and make a vitamins flour to improve diets and increase income.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

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Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi PEAS Foundation  welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

You've put together such a heart warming Vision for better nutrition for children, in spite of political unrest the region. How might you detail out your 2050 Vision to inspire your region towards a regenerative futures?

Make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o8WGMus6-V8GywWdlNwmCpk7I1fMVzcQ/view

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST.