Dealing with malnutrition of children under five by offering a locally produced 'leaf extract' supplement.
The vision of the Lesotho NGO is promotion of the betterment of life in rural communities. Its initial project, the 'Leaf Extract' project is based on the concept that the leaves of indigenous plants ex. maize, beans, squashes and others considered weeds (amaranthus, stinging nettle) can be utilized, after a basic extraction process (which can be performed on a community level), as a protein micronutrient rich supplement that has shown to eliminate malnutrition in young children. (ref. www.leafforlife.org ) It is also based on the concept that communities and particularly rural communities need to come together in consultation in order to develop the autonomy to run their own income generating, health producing projects, in this case, choosing vegetables to grow, deciding on best marketing practices, coordinating leaf extraction and distribution of the supplement to children in the community. Training of project managers will include the basic project workshops in community consultation, basic nutrition/nutrition and hygiene for mothers of young children, appropriate agriculture techniques including planting of drought resistant trees, companion planting.., leaf extraction, running a small business.
Although at first it is not simple to initiate a community-run project, the long term costs are more affordable and could be assumed in the country. We consider the empowerment of local people who take responsibility for the health of the children at the same time that they are creating an increased income for themselves as significant.
Most development projects involve the use of supplements (such as vitamin A capsules) produced and purchased outside of the country. Utilizing the leaves of local plants to produce the supplements in small locally run industries can be a source of autonomy and pride for the community participants.