Friday 11 October 2013

Feeding Children in Malawi

As many readers know, I lived in Malawi for two years, teaching sciences in a Girls Secondary School. Ever since then, I've had a particular interest in the country. I was delighted therefore to hear about the work of PB+J Foods, a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce the problems of Severe Acute Malnutrition in Malawian children.

Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) affects almost 20 million children across the world. It is the number one cause of death for children under five and kills 3.5 million children each year -  more than HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria together.

Founded in March 2012, the PB+J Foods programs:
provide specially fortified foods for children suffering from SAM or undergoing medical treatment, offer health education to those in need and 
help to build self-sustaining local economies.

The problem of SAM is exacerbated by the exorbitant price of Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Foods (RUTF), such as fortified peanut butter paste. PB+J Foods set about devising a solution.

PB+J Foods help local hospitals and clinics to set up manufacturing plants to produce fortified peanut butter paste. The plants are owned and operated by the hospitals, are financially self-sustainable and employ local people.

Once a plant has become established, the fortified peanut butter paste will be sold to agencies including World Vision, UNICEF and the Malawi Ministry of Health. Profits are then distributed to local hospitals so they can provide RUTF to their patients for free.

PB+J Foods also sets up local Co-op Farmer Programs, involving up to 1000 farmers, many of them single mothers. These programmes upport farmers to start growing peanuts and to find international markets for their crops.

In August 2012, Nkhoma Hospital PB+J Program was established and started production that month.  The RUTF is provided to all patients with nutritional needs throughout the hospital and in outlying clinics in the catchment area. In its first year, the Nkhoma Hospital PB+J Program:
  • served over 1,200 children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years, with average weight gain of 2kg in a 2 week period
  • produced around 140 bottles per day - serving nearly 100 children per month
  • gives fortified peanut butter paste to adults recovering from surgery, speeding recovery and freeing up bed space for new patients
  • has 800 farmers participating in the Co-op Farmers Program
  • provides participants with knowledge and skills training in food safety and storage, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, childcare and agriculture.

This is such an impressive project! Not only does it provide the immediate nutritional support that is so desperately needed by undernourished children, but it also enables local areas to manage the problem themselves while developing their economies. 

Find out more about PB+J Foods Inc.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post - PB+J Foods contacted me via Blogdash.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Wow this is an amazing cause! I find it quite inspiring :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

The number of insufficiently fed children in the world is just so terrible Juliet. My thoughts are with the Syrian refugee children.

eileeninmd said...

What a great program! I hope it is a big success!

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Juliet,

How interesting that you lived in Malawi teaching - must have been a great experience.
This is such a great cause and hope it is a huge success.

Happy Sunday

A Cuban In London said...

Every time I read figures like the ones you include in your brilliant post my faith in humanity decreases a little. Thank God we have programmes like this one.

Greetings from London.

bunnits said...

A worthwhile project. Hoping for success