Wednesday, April 22, 2015

KAZI KAZINI. ...

Fortification Efforts for Improved Health in Tanzania


On Wednesday, April 22, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Tuboreshe Chakula project and the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center (TNFC) co-hosted “Fortification in Tanzania: Past, Present, and Future” At the Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam. This event brought together government, private sector, technology providers, development organizations and others to map a way forward for fortification efforts in Tanzania. It also marked the launch of a nationwide campaign to promote food fortification and the advantages it offers for a healthy Tanzania.

Fortification is the process of adding in vitamins and minerals that are found in other foods, but not always available at the right time. The Government of Tanzania supports fortification of staple foods to reduce the amount of stunting in children under the age of five. The U.S. Government, under its global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, supports fortification as part of its efforts to reduce malnutrition in vulnerable, often rural, regions.

From 2011 to 2015, USAID’s Tuboreshe Chakula project worked, frequently in conjunction with the TNFC, on several fronts to increase fortification while raising consumer awareness of the value of fortified products. The project focused on five product lines—maize, sunflower oil, rice, blended flour and micronutrient powder (Virutubishi)—to widen rural access to these nutritious products. The project collaborated with 700 small and medium-scale millers and processors to fortify maize flour and sunflower oil in the regions of Dodoma, Morogoro and Manyara. Many of these businesses had to improve operations to gain the required government certification for fortification; today, 60% of them are operating more profitably. In 2013, in those regions and in the islands of Zanzibar, the project introduced and promoted Virutubishi, a specially formulated micronutrient powder for children under five. Virutubishi is available in local stores in target regions so parents can fortify cooked food for their children. Surveys conducted by the Tuboreshe Chakula project show 30% of respondents now use Virutubishi regularly.

In early 2015, the Tanzania NNS SMART 2014 survey conducted by TFNC showed that stunting in Tanzania has fallen from 42% to 34% which is “…a good sign that fortification is contributing to strengthen the country’s productivity and economic potential” said Joyceline Kaganda, Acting Managing Director TFNC.

The April 22 event featured achievements and lessons learned from the Tuboreshe Chakula project and many other stakeholders, including testimonials from project partners and beneficiaries. Event participants also received a preview of the nationwide fortification campaign and helped plan the top 10 action steps for ensuring fortification continues forward in Tanzania.
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