Micronutrient malnutrition – especially iron deficiency anemia (IDA) – is a severe public health problem for the Indian population. As such, TCI is leading a partnership coalition for piloting a flour fortification project in Gujarat, India.
Partners include: TCI/Cornell University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), BAIF Development Research Foundation, Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Sight and Life and a Women’s Federation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
At the heart of this approach are the Women’s Federation and its member SHGs, which will serve as the primary vehicle for the initiative.
This approach is unique in that it applies market-based principals (e.g. demand generation, social marketing, small enterprise development and consumer purchases) to create a self-sustained model for flour fortification.
The project involves piloting a supply chain for making available micronutrient sachets to women through a network Federation of SHGs formed by BAIF in 16 villages in the Tapi district of Gujarat. The micronutrients will be manufactured and supplied by Sight and Life. A field team comprising of BAIF and TISS-TCI field staff will implement the project. MS University Baroda will be involved in tracking the changes in the nutritional status of communities in the project location.
The micronutrients sachet will comprise of 1.25 grams of fortificant consisting of iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A, adequate for up to 5 kg of wheat or rice or sorghum flour at cost of Rs. 3.00.
- Na-FE EDTA (20 ppm)
- Folic Acid (1.5 ppm)
- Vitamin A (300 ppb)
- Vitamin B12 (0.01 ppm)
Four phases of project development
1) Approval phase: used for planning and development of the project proposal, building consensus and establishing MOUs among the multiple stakeholder institutions, and seeking the support and acceptance of the project approach in the local communities.
2) Awareness and capacity building phase: used to build awareness among community members about nutrition related issues and the possibility of the use of micronutrient powders to reduce malnutrition levels. This will also be the phase during which the baseline will be carried out.
3) Implementation or business phase: will be the period when the micronutrient sachet will be introduced. The Women’s Federation will work with SHGs to sell the fortificant sachet to the community members. (A management information system is being developed to track the purchase, repeat purchase, consumption and payment for the fortificant.)
4) Consolidation / Impact assessment phase: will comprise finalization of the business plan for the women’s federation and understanding the impact of the work in terms of change in health status. The Women’s Federation is expected to scale up the work across the location and possible the districts.