Margaux Yost, Africa Programs Associate at The Hunger Project Global Office, recently traveled to Mozambique and Benin to observe our Health and Nutrition programs. Over a series of two blog posts, Margaux has explored two key aspects of successful development: program implementation and advocacy at the national level. She shares what she experienced on her visit to Benin below.
On my way to Benin, I was already conscious of the fact that Hunger Project Health and Nutrition program had reached incredible heights in the last couple of years. Before heading to the field, I implemented a 1,000 Days Nutrition training with The Hunger Project-Benin Health staff. This training manual, developed last year and piloted in Ethiopia and Mozambique, is used as a resource manual aligned with the 7 Essential Nutrition Actions. The training manual was also designed to reach illiterate populations through interactive and participatory modules. To my delight, the THP-Benin staff received this training with enthusiasm and let me know that it was a training they could see themselves using in-the-field.
An incredibly unique part of the Health and Nutrition program in Benin is the Moringa production and promotion. Moringa is a power food that is impressively rich in some of the most common deficiencies (such as vitamin A and Iron). A few years back, The Hunger Project-Benin realized that no matter how good the nutritional training side of a health program was, it did not change the inaccessibility of certain nutritious rich foods to community partners that were promoted at a program level. In order to close the gap between nutrition trainings and food accessibility, The Hunger Project-Benin adopted Moringa plant. Moringa is easily accessed and produced by partner communities. As a result, The Hunger Project-Benin started its own Moringa production facility in Wawata Epicenter and hopes to scale the operation up in two other regions. I had the privilege of visiting this epicenter and wanted to share the production process:
- After removing the leaves from the branches, they are washed with purified water.
- The leaves are then set to dry for 48 hours.
- Once dried, the leaves are powdered in a giant mortar and pestle.
- The factory produces 8 Kg per week that is packaged by different institutions for sale or distribution.
The Wawata Epicenter produces approximately 8 Kgs of Moringa powder per week. This product is then sold in pharmacies and, also, distributed by health animators that conduct monthly weighing sessions. The improved accessibility to Moringa in the community is playing a direct role in providing a source of nutrients that are addressed in the 1,000 Days Initiative. With Moringa as part of the in-the-field Health and Nutrition Activities, The Hunger Project-Benin’s role in reducing the rate of undernutrition in, not only partner communities but at national level, will I have no doubt transpire in the coming years.
Health and nutrition programs such as these in Africa are made possible by a strategic partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities.