|By David West, PIH Staff - Jun 10, 2010 9:27:56 AM ET|
|Also listed in: Chicago Community of Support|
Written by Sonny Garg, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Exelon Corporation
The impact of food insecurity in Haiti cannot be overestimated. Haiti ranks along with Afghanistan and Somalia as one of the three countries of the world with the worst daily caloric deficit per inhabitant (460 kcal/day). According to UNICEF, almost a quarter of Haiti's children suffer from chronic malnutrition, which stunts growth and causes long-term developmental damage. In PIH's experience, what is needed is a holistic approach to address hunger and malnutrition in the short term, and food security, agricultural capacity, and economic opportunity in the longer term.
Zanmi Agrikol ("Partners In Agriculture" in Haitian Creole) is PIH's program to treat and prevent childhood malnutrition while improving agricultural capacity and household food security in the areas where PIH works in Haiti. Launched as a small pilot program in November 2006, Zanmi Agrikol has three main components:
- The local production of therapeutic foods (called Nourimanba and Nourimil) to treat and prevent malnutrition.
- The operation of a farm and contracts with local farmers who grow crops (mainly peanuts) used to make these therapeutic foods.
- The Family Assistance Program, an agricultural assistance program for the poorest families whose children are being treated for malnutrition at Zanmi Lasante clinical sites.
The Zanmi Agrikol program currently provides malnutrition treatment and prevention for 5,600 children, employs or contracts with roughly 200 local farmers, and provides agricultural training and support to 1,240 vulnerable families through the Family Assistance Program.
In the Fall of 2009, Sonny Garg and Professor Rob Gertner from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business launched an initiative to develop a business plan to expand RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) production in Haiti and explore agribusiness opportunities in Haiti. Now with the engagement and support of Abbott Laboratories/Abbott Fund, PIH will be pursuing the implementation of expanded RUTF production to meet the PIH patient demand and will be considering the possibility of producing additional agricultural products as opportunities arise.