On Saturday, January 14, CBS Evening News featured a story about an agricultural initiative that will create new jobs and help treat malnourished children in Haiti’s Central Plateau. A partnership between Partners In Health and Abbott Laboratories is building a manufacturing plant which, when completed in late 2012, will increase PIH’s production of Nourimanba – a therapeutic peanut-based product used to fight malnutrition – more than ten-fold.
As CBS’s Maurice Dubois notes in his story, this new venture will employ local Haitians, expand PIH’s existing sustainable agricultural system, and, most importantly, offer life-saving nutrition to thousands of under-nourished children.
Fighting childhood malnutrition in Haiti
While PIH first began producing Nourmanba and Nourimil – a second therapeutic supplement made from beans – in 2006, efforts were quickly ramped up after the 2010 earthquake. In the first 18 months after that devastating event, Zanmi Agrikol (ZA), PIH’s agricultural sister organization in Haiti, produced more than 570,000 pounds – nearly 260 tons – of nutritional supplement. This effort brought food to tens of thousands of Haitian children.
The UN estimates that 1.5 million children and young people under the age of 18 were affected by the 2010 earthquake, nearly a half-million of whom were under the age of five. At least 300,000 young people were forced from their homes, with hundreds of thousands ending up in the settlement camps located in and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Too many of these young people still lack consistent access to nutritious foods.
Even before that event, Haiti was already suffering from widespread malnutrition. In late 2009, the UN estimated that one in four children had stunted growth, with an estimated 2.2 percent of children under the age of five suffering severe acute malnutrition.
Cultivating an economic recovery
Today, ZA’s farms employ 46 farmers and 72 day laborers. Beyond its own farms, ZA supports 300 farming families throughout the Central Plateau in running their own farms. Families receive seeds, the use of a tractor, and a guaranteed market price in exchange for growing crops of peanuts for Nourimanba.
As construction begins on the new manufacturing plant, ZA is working to expand its agricultural programs. To meet this need, ZA is enrolling 1,240 families in its family assistance program, which provides seeds, training, and support to aid the families in establishing farms that will support both the production of Nourimanba and food for local communities.
In November, the New York Times profiled the PIH and Abbott Laboratories partnership and the building of a new Nourimanba factory.
Learn more about PIH’s Zanmi Agrikol program.