04 December 2020
UNITLIFE has partnered with GOAL, an international non-governmental organization, to prevent chronic malnutrition in the highly affected region of Zinder, located in southern Niger. Together, UNITLIFE and GOAL have launched a project that aims to sustainably improve nutrition while also empowering women as part of the solution, through management over household income.
In Niger, 49% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition and a staggering 90% do not consume a sufficiently diverse diet necessary to meet their minimum nutrient requirements. When children do not receive the right balance of nutrients to ensure healthy growth, the development of their bodies, brains and immune system is irreversibly impacted by chronic malnutrition. It is estimated that 43% of child deaths in Niger are linked to undernutrition, and the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 will put even more children at risk, as financial strain leaves families unable to afford nutrient rich foods. In light of the situation, UNITLIFE and GOAL have initiated a project seeking to improve nutrition through biofortification and the empowerment of women in the Zinder region, where as many as 53% of children are affected by chronic malnutrition. The project will reach over 283,000 people, more than half of whom are women and girls.
“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.”
– Assia Sidibe, Programme Manager of UNITLIFE
The project will place women at the center of its actions by:
1. Capacitating a local business to provide female smallholder farmers with access to biofortified seeds, which increase the nutrient content of crops such as millet, beans, and vegetables;
2. Supporting women’s access to habanaye, a revolving goat bank system, in order to increase access to fresh goat milk (a good source of protein and calcium) and provide a source of revenue for women;
3. Increasing awareness and understanding among women about good nutrition and its critical importance for children, as well as training women to detect early signs of acute malnutrition.
“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.”
– Leopold Buhendwa, the Country Director of GOAL Niger
The project will reach over 18,600 people through targeted support and over 264,000 people through a mass awareness campaign on good nutrition, during its 18-month pilot phase. The US$500,000 budget will be paid for by UNITLIFE, thanks to the support of its financial partner Reaching the Last Mile initiative. UNITLIFE will continue to explore additional funding opportunities to extend the length of the project and GOAL, as the implementation agency, will oversee the execution of the project in Niger.