BRAC

Packed with Power: Egg-based sustainable solutions to eradicate child malnutrition

Malnutrition

Reduce malnutrition and stunting in Bangladeshi and Ugandan children under 2 years through a sustainable model producing and introducing egg protein into children’s diets.

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Project Summary

BRAC and SAL propose replicating a successful trial from Bangladesh where the introduction of a simple home-based egg mixture as a daily snack for children resulted in significant gains in height and weight for ultra-poor children U2. This project will scale the intervention in Uganda and Bangladesh producing the egg mixture ingredients, providing a subsidy to families to access it, training families in nutrition and sanitation, and supporting families for 18 months. While eggs are among the most perishable of nutritious foods, egg powder has the same nutritional value, is cheaper, safer, prevents food loss and has the lowest carbon footprint of all animal-based proteins. BRAC will create a social enterprise to produce the egg mixture which will be sold at market value to higher income families, generating a subsidy to continue the program after the award ends.

Problem Statement

Globally 155 million infants suffer from stunting, an irreversible form of under-nutrition. The majority of stunted infants live in Africa and South Asia. The effects of stunting are largely irreversible beyond the second year of a child’s life. Stunting limits brain development, resulting in long term negative impacts such as reduced cognitive ability, under-achievement at school and reduced adult productivity for sustained nation-building. In Bangladesh, 1 in 3 children are currently stunted, and in Uganda it is 1 in 2. There has been a global decline in wasting and stunting since 1995, but the prevalence of stunting remains unacceptably high. Under-nutrition in infants remains a challenge due to poverty and household food insecurity resulting in acute hunger and lack of essential nutrients in their diets. For ultra-poor families surviving on less than $1.90/day, families cannot afford to provide lactating mothers and infants with the nutrients needed to promote normal growth, especially with expensive animal proteins. Additionally, poor sanitation and hygiene practices make infants more vulnerable to disease and less able to process the nutrients they ingest. Not only do the ultra-poor not have access to financial resources, there are no low-cost nutritious solutions available to them. The lack of markets and products that fit their acute needs means that without the creation of such a solution, even with increased income, stunting will not be overcome. The leverage points for this intervention is a simple correlation between consumption of nutritious food and long-term achievement in every walk of life.

Solution Overview

Our solution is to augment traditional food items – semolina in Bangladesh and maize in Uganda – into a nutritious snack by including an egg and some milk into the recipe. This snack will provide children with animal source protein, essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that are indispensable for growth. This improved snack will be incorporated into a program which identifies the ultra-poor families in deprived communities. The program participants, selected annually, are enrolled when their infant reaches 7 months and continues until the infant reaches 24 months. Each ultra-poor household is visited by Community Health Workers (CHW). During home visits, caregivers receive training on appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, including exclusive breastfeeding, continuation of breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding practices, and WASH. Additionally, the CHWs demonstrate preparation of the nutrition supplement at home. Program staff monitor progress to ensure the caregivers are using age-appropriate IYCF practices. Program staff will select local vendors to distribute the ingredients for the snack. The ingredients are available in the local markets, except for milk which BRAC dairy will distribute to vendors. Caregivers receive vouchers to purchase the ingredients from local vendors. In the second and third phases of the program, BRAC will implement the cross-subsidy model, which includes making the product available for purchase to others through a social enterprise. Throughout the project period, an independent evaluation will measure the growth and dietary diversity of beneficiary children on a quarterly basis. Visible changes in these two indicators will monitor progress.

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