As part of the Girma food and nutrition security project being conducted in Niger, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) called on GRET for technical assistance to support local private operators with the production, promotion and marketing of local infant flours specially designed for children aged 6 to 24 months.
Since 2018, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been conducting the Girma project in Niger. The latter is funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and aims to sustainably improve food and nutrition security and the resilience of the most vulnerable households and communities
Putting international experience to work for Nigerian production units
The project, which is working in 600 villages in 11 communes in the Magaria and Dungass departmental districts, provides direct support to almost 900,000 people, including 23,000 children aged 6 to 24 months, who will benefit from fortified infant flour. Magaria and Dungass are located in the Zinder region, in south-central Niger which, according to the 2020 SMART study, is the worst affected by chronic malnutrition, with 55.8 % prevalence. This is partly due to lack of access to appropriate quality complementary foods for children aged 6 to 24 months.
With a wealth of experience in partnership with the private flour and fortified food production sectors, GRET joined with CRS to support monitoring of local units producing infant flours specially formulated for children aged 6 to 24 months, in compliance with national and international standards. These quality flours will be used in operations distributing fortified infant flours free of charge via a distribution method using vouchers in the 11 communes targeted.
A successful operational launch
The first free distribution operations using the vouchers method took place from 28 November to 2 December 2020. To satisfy CRS requirements, GRET supported production units in Mainé Soroua, Mayahi, Mirriah and Matameye to ensure the production of 12.5 tons of fortified infant flours within the given deadline. These flours were provided to the supply chain via a previously identified local wholesaler, which ensured distribution to a network of 44 points of sale.
In the four Dungass communes targeted for this first distribution operation, households with children aged 6 to 24 months benefitted from this complementary infant food in exchange for vouchers worth 500 FCFA each (the equivalent of 500 g of infant flour). Out of a total of 1,248 children targeted during the first distribution phase, 1,123, i.e. 90 %, benefitted from 10 kg of fortified infant flour each, making it possible to limit their precarious nutritional situation in the project zone.
Following this experience, the partnership between Catholic Relief Services and GRET is continuing to ensure monthly distributions of free infant flour using vouchers in the various project zones.