Feed the Future To Launch Nutrition Programs in Africa

February 28, 2012
USAID/GhanaUSAID Assistant to the Administrator Paul Weisenfeld joins Northern Regional Minister Mabengba at MOU signing ceremony.

As part of its ongoing commitment to improve access to adequate nutrition, Feed the Future is working with partner countries to roll out new programs in the field that address undernutrition, especially among children. Three of those countries are highlighted here.

Feed the Future Works with Government of Uganda and Private Sector to Advance Policy Solutions to Undernutrition

An alliance between Feed the Future, the Government of Uganda, and the private sector is helping combat the devastating effects of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in women and children through a new policy initiative to increase the nutrition of common food products.

Since 2005, USAID has supported the Government of Uganda’s health and regulatory authorities and private producers to help vulnerable people get needed nutrients without requiring them to significantly change their eating habits. USAID introduced the voluntary program of oil fortification as a cost-effective way of reaching the 20 percent of Ugandan women and children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency.

As a result of this partnership, the Government of Uganda developed food fortification standards, guidelines, and quality control and assurance for a safe, effective, and sustainable program. Under Feed the Future, USAID is now collaborating with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the World Food Program to assist the Government of Uganda in expanding the range of fortified foods to include maize and wheat flour.

To date, more than six million women and five million children have been reached with vitamin A fortified oil, a good dietary source for preventing malnutrition, child blindness, and susceptibility to common illnesses, as well as lowering rates of maternal mortality. Local vegetable oil producers like Bidco and Mukwano, as well as grain processors like Unga Millers, have adopted food fortification practices.

The Government of Uganda recently took an important step forward by requesting that fortification be mandatory for certain food products. This policy shift represents the country ownership and commitment to improved nutrition that characterize Feed the Future.


USAID and Local Ghana Government Launch Feed the Future Resilience and Nutrition Project

On February 1, USAID’s Bureau for Food Security Assistant to the Administrator Paul Weisenfeld and USAID/Ghana Mission Director Cheryl Anderson signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana’s Northern Regional Minister, the Honorable Moses Bukari Mabengba, to officially launch the new Feed the Future Ghana resilience and nutrition project. This project will fund up to 12 district governments in the Northern Region of Ghana for activities including income and diet diversification, access to credit, and health education messages. It will be implemented using a randomized control trial that will contribute to the global body of evidence on the impact of integrated nutrition and agriculture interventions.

Minister Mabengba expressed excitement for the strengthened partnership between his region and the U.S. Government, strong commitment to the agreement, and appreciation to U.S. taxpayers for the assistance. USAID is working with Ghana’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to finalize funding arrangements for the expected $27 million to be invested through the Ghanaian government over the next five years.


Feed the Future and Government of Tanzania Advancing Nutrition at Local and National Levels

For the past two months, members of the Feed the Future nutrition team in Tanzania have been convening meetings and workshops with regional leaders and councils throughout Tanzania to roll out a comprehensive nutrition program. The Government of Tanzania has been a vigorous advocate for improving nutrition outcomes, having added a line item to the national budget specifically for nutrition.The Feed the Future nutrition team is now working to generate this momentum at the local level.

In meetings with local authorities, the Feed the Future nutrition project members are emphasizing the importance of nutrition interventions being included in local governments’ 2012/2013 plans and budgets, as well as the links between Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative

As a result of partnership between the Government of Tanzania and Feed the Future, the Prime Minister’s office also issued a directive that each region must have a dedicated nutritionist. Feed the Future is providing technical support as these positions are funded and filled. In various regions throughout Tanzania, local governments are conveying the importance of reducing stunting and maternal anemia. The purpose of these meetings and workshops was not only to empower local government authorities, but to begin deciding on the activities that will meet the needs of regional community members.