Small-Scale Fortification: Innovative Technology for the Developing World

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Small-Scale Fortification: Innovative Technology for the Developing World

Haiti
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Approximately one billion people are vitamin and mineral deficient because of lack of access to centrally processed foods, eliminating the opportunity to consume fortified foods. Project Healthy Children (PHC) hopes to develop the technology to fortify foods for these vulnerable populations.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Micronutrient malnutrition is one of the most debilitating issues facing the developing world and a serious issue in Haiti: only 2.7% of Haitian children under the age of five live in households that consume adequately iodized salt, only 55.9% of these children consume vitamin A rich foods with only 28.7% receiving vitamin A supplements in the past six months. Sixty one percent of these children are anemic . Food fortification has been endorsed by the 2008 Copenhagen Consensus as one of the most cost-effective approaches to addressing micronutrient malnutrition. Effective mass fortification strategies, however, miss those with limited access to centrally processed foods; population groups who are usually most at risk for such deficiencies. Limitations preventing small-scale fortification efforts from being widely implemented include equipment costs, premix availability, local buy-in, and product monitoring. Through the design of an innovative device, limitations are addressed while reaching vulnerable populations most at risk.
About You
Organization:
Project Healthy Children
Section 1: About You
First Name

David

Last Name

Dodson

Website
Organization

Project Healthy Children

Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Project Healthy Children

Organization Phone

617-244-1663

Organization Address

130 Rumford Ave. Suite 116, Newton, MA

Organization Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Website URL
Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

Historically, small-scale fortification efforts have been limited by expense and imprecision, preventing the most vulnerable populations from accessing the benefits of additional vitamins and minerals added to staple food products. For example, a micronutrient fortification device currently being piloted in Nepal costs over $900USD and requires daily, manual monitoring. The innovation: a simple device for small-scale electric millers to weigh and proportionately dispense nutrients into grain that is affordable, effective and accurate. Based on existing work with Stanford University, PHC believes a device can be developed for as little as $100USD that uses a unique design sensitive to the millers’ established daily routine and is conveniently added to the milling process.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
What impact have you had?

Impact of the devise: The device has proven successful in proportionally dispensing micronutrients into a cereal and legume mixture by weighing the amount of cereal/legumes before it is released into the mill and releasing a specified amount of premix into the mixture in weight-driven intervals. This device also includes a low-cost microprocessor that collects weight and dose release timing data so that the accuracy of doses can be monitored and includes simple elements designed for ease of manufacture and repair.

Impact of small-scale fortification: Through a partnership with PHC, the Micronutrient Initiative, and a local NGO in Nepal, small-scale fortification technology in flour mills has proven effective in reaching vulnerable populations. Aiming to reach a total of 22,000 people in 4,000 rural households, this project will work to reduce iron deficiency anemia, reported to be one of the most serious public health problems in Nepal: 67% in women and 78% in children under five in rural areas. Technical viability of the project has demonstrated wide acceptance by the community with consist use by millers allowing locally grown and fortified products to become a delivery vehicle for essential vitamins and minerals for hard-to-reach and most at risk populations previously excluded from large-scale mill production.

Actions

1. PHC is working with Stanford University to design and implement affordable and convenient new technology for use in small-scale, rural mills serving populations without access to centrally processed foods.
2. PHC and Stanford University have designed of a comprehensive business model to ensure efficient project implementation and the feasibility of global scale-up.
3. Collaboration by PHC and Stanford University with an in-country implementing partner has been established in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the context in which the device will be used and the population it will serve. Insight provided by the in-country partner will ensure the project is designed to address local needs and limitations, and will play a key role in community engagement and long-term project sustainability.
4. The design team is currently (November) testing a field-ready device in Haiti, funded by PHC.

Results

The long-term results of these actions are expected to:
1. Produce a device that allows for effective, affordable, and sustainable production of a fortified product at small, local mills that is nutritionally adequate for the target population.
2. Produce a device that has a simple design, low cost, and broad compatibility with different mill models allowing the devise to be manufactured and distributed globally with the potential of reaching a market size of over one billion at risk individuals.
3. Reduce the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in the target population resulting in decreased rates of maternal and infant mortality, childhood blindness, infection, diarrhea, mental retardation, and lead to increased energy, school attendance, worker productivity and economic development.

Small-scale fortification promises to be one of the most significant break-through technologies in reaching rural and most at-risk populations.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Year 1:
- The device is successfully added to rural mill operations and dispenses the designated amount of vitamins and minerals.
- The device itself and its addition to a rural milling process prove to be affordable as per design specifications.
- Acceptance of the device by the miller including how to use, repairs, and obtain premix.
- Acceptance and purchase of the fortified product by the target population.
- Effective design of a business model that ensure product distribution and long-term sustainability of the project in terms of equipment and premix purchases.
Year 2:
- Testing, refining, and rolling out what is developed in year one including:
o Continued acceptance and purchase of the fortified product by the target population.
o Continued operational functionality of the device including ability and willingness of the miller to use, sustain and repair it.
o Careful attention by the operating partners to miller and target population needs and concerns regarding the device and the fortified product, with the ability to make appropriate alterations and changes as needed.
o Adherence to the business model to ensure and enable global scale-up of the project.
Year 3:
- Market driven approach (if consumers are willing to pay more for fortified flour, millers may be willing to purchase the device if it means improving their bottom line)
- Continued attention to miller and target population regarding needs and concerns through continued collaboration with in-country partners.
- Identification of other countries and mill models where device distribution can be implemented.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

The simplicity and adaptability of the current device would likely rule out any insurmountable technical challenges. This has proven true during the pilot phase in Haiti and would likely be the case once scaled-up globally. Lack of attention to the needs and concerns of the community and inability to adapt to and address local concerns would present a challenge to the project's success. Such success, however, will depend largely on the development and adherence to a strong and sustainable business model, which has been designed jointly by PHC and Stanford University.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

In what country?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Project Healthy Children

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Partnering with an NGO working in the community where the device will be used and among the population it will serve will be critical for appropriate tailoring of the innovation and acceptance of the fortified product. Such an operational collaboration will allow for the sharing of information regarding markets and bottom line incentives relevant for other local millers who may wish to adopt the technology and can enable the innovation to be part of a greater national effort to track and improve the target population’s nutritional status.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. A sustainable business model ensuring the device can be manufactured and distributed globally while maintaining feasibility and affordability.
2. Strong in-country, on-the-ground partnerships that will facilitate the integration of the device and the fortified product within the local context, paying close attention to community concerns.
3. Strong support and willingness on the side of local millers to adopt the new technology and community members to purchase the fortified product.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

PHC began in 2000 in response to the enormous gap between the health care systems in the United States and elsewhere. Interested in looking at sustainable preventative health care strategies, PHC’s founders learned that micronutrient health was the basic building block on which rests everything from a child’s ability to resist HIV to a country’s ability to migrate from economic dependency to independence. Yet the most vulnerable people would never see vitamins and minerals in their lifetime, no matter what happened. Few health initiatives, such supplementation and nutrition programming would be able to reach them. The solution became clear: a strategy that would reach these most at-risk populations and provide them with the benefits of critically missing vitamins and minerals that other populations had access to. Making this solution a reality would have an enormous impact.

Food fortification, which exists in the United States through the cereal we eat and the salt we season our food with, is the least expensive most reliable method for improving micronutrient health. For the cost of between $0.02-0.80 per person per year, funded not by charity but with the day-to-day purchasing of basic commodities, it is within a country’s power to prevent a child from becoming blind, a mother from hemorrhaging to death during childbirth, or a baby being born with a debilitating birth defect.

Six years later, building on successful work in Central America, PHC’s mission became designing and implementing comprehensive micronutrient strategies in seven developing countries covering a total population of seventy million people over a seven-year period. Upon completion, PHC’s work will lead to a profound impact in areas such as: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea, measles, blindness, birth defects, death during childbirth, and mental retardation.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

David Dodson founded PHC with his wife in 2000 while he was pursuing his career as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur he held the positions of CEO or Chairman of five companies and has served on the board of directors of thirteen businesses. In 2007 Mr. Dodson made the decision to devote his full time efforts to managing PHC. He holds a BA in economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Stanford University and formally worked with McKinsey & Company.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company