Improving Nutrition with Fortified Flour in Senegal

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February 28, 2013
Feed the Future | From the Field

Ndendory, Senegal is a major producer of cereals, but this region in the country’s extreme north also has some of the highest levels of undernutrition—22 percent of children in Ndendory are underweight and nearly 18 percent suffer from stunted growth. Part of the problem is that, despite the abundance of staple grains, villagers don’t have access to other types of food that provide essential vitamins and nutrients.

In response to this issue, Feed the Future is working with community nutrition volunteers in Ndendory to train women’s groups how to create fortified flour, a product that can be extremely effective in reducing severe and chronic undernutrition, but which is expensive and difficult to find in rural parts of Senegal. The fortification method uses a formula developed by nutritionists from USAID and can be made from locally available ingredients such as millet, sorghum, maize, fish flour, peanuts, cowpeas and baobab fruit powder. The enriched flour is used to create porridge that is fed to infants and young children.

One of Feed the Future’s community nutrition volunteers is Raky Mamadou Niane, who works with 15 women’s groups that are part of the flour fortification enterprise known as Jab Gollade (The Working Women). Jab Gollade has worked since 2011 to create and sell reasonably priced and nutritious fortified flour products to address severe undernutrition in the region. Similar local groups are providing additional high-nutrition products such as iodized salt to their communities.

The demand for these products was even greater than the groups had anticipated. "At first we found that we couldn’t keep some things such as iodized salt and enriched flour in stock and customers were buying up everything that we could get our hands on,” says Adrien Ndour of USAID, who trains volunteers like Niane. “Sales went up so radically, we began to have problems maintaining the stock.”

Hawa Daff, a local mother, says that since her children have been eating the fortified flour, they have been healthier and more active. I don’t have to take them to the hospital so often,” Daff says. “That means I’m spending less than half of what I used to in doctor’s fees.”

With the help of a grant from USAID, Jab Gollade can produce and package 50 kilograms per day of enriched flour, bringing the business about $90 profit per batch. This amount is considerable in an area where a farmer’s average monthly income is about $40. Divided among the group’s members, the money goes into a revolving loan fund that supports women’s enterprises within the group, and can also be used for everyday items like food, soap and other household goods.

Niane, the community nutrition volunteer, points to a survey conducted by the local nutritional fortification program that indicates a drop in cases of moderate and acute undernutrition in Ndendory from 30 to ten between 2011 and 2012. "We think it’s due to our flour,” she says.