Supporting Local Innovation to Improve Nutrition and Health

By CJ Jones, Country Manager – Kenya. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

Supporting Local Innovation to Improve Nutrition and Health

Encouraging local business to accelerate delivery of nutritious foods into markets

One in seven people do not get enough food to lead an active and healthy life, and an estimated two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies globally. There is plenty of published evidence to suggest undernutrition is having a severely negative impact in the developing world in terms of child survival, maternal health, the global burden of disease and human productivity. And prominent global economists recognize the return on investment from nutrition interventions as among the most cost-effective ways to meet challenges in development.

Kenyans suffer from severe malnutrition, with significant micronutrient deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc and iron. The country itself is ranked in the ‘serious level of hunger’ category in the Global Hunger Index and there is an urgent need to improve the nutritional quality of food being produced here.

However, nutrition interventions have largely been delivered through public health systems, ignoring the important role of the actual food system in the process. And while better production and increasing the quantity of available food has been the primary focus to resolving food security issues in developing countries, the nutritional quality of food products has largely been ignored.

The agriculture and food production system has a profound effect on improving consumption of nutrients in diets. In Kenya, we’re working with local businesses and organizations to tap into both the great potential of improving nutrition through agricultural interventions and working with actors across the entire food value chain.

GAIN’s ‘Marketplace for Nutritious Foods’

This week in Nairobi, we announced our ‘Marketplace for Nutritious Foods’ to encourage local engagement between key players within the country’s nutrition community: small and medium enterprises (SMEs), non-profit alliances, donors, research an academic institutions, policy makers and social investment firms.

For 10 years, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has been partnering with public and private sector organizations to deliver nutrition solutions to vulnerable populations. Combining GAIN’s technical expertise, and our ability to convene diverse sectors committed to fighting malnutrition, The Marketplace platform will offer a more country-focused approach to addressing the issue.

Through working together and meeting regularly, we can all learn and share knowledge about the approaches which are working, and the approaches which are not working in Kenya. Together, we can resolve the challenges we face in terms of policy constraints, financing, availability of skilled human resources, demand creation and supply chain efficiency.

Alongside this, we’ll also be offering a small grant facility for all the actors along the agricultural value chain to interface, network and share knowledge to encourage investments in nutrition-focused innovations in Kenya.

Encouraging country-led innovation in Kenya

We want to encourage innovation, particularly in agriculture, amongst this group of players. Members will be able to submit concepts and their ideas will be scored and ranked in the areas of nutritional impact, agricultural feasibility, business sustainability and scalability. Businesses showing the greatest potential for positive nutritional impact and business strength will benefit from advanced support and services.

While allowing for these innovative ideas to be tested, adapted and supported in-country, and through building this country-led community, we’ll work together at developing successful nutrition interventions at scale. And once we can make this work in Kenya, there’s potential for us to replicate this concept in other countries suffering from the burden of malnutrition.

For more information, contact in**@ga********.org.

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