New nutrition knowledge bank provides advice via cellphones

A new open-access Knowledge Bank aims to deliver nutrition information to three million people in 12 developing countries.

The Knowledge Bank, part of the GSMA mNutrition initiative to help tackle malnutrition in Africa and Asia, is a collection of content on good nutritional practices and includes downloadable factsheets and mobile messages.

Adequate nutrition is critical to the physical and mental development of children and to long-term human health, but one out of three people in developing countries suffers from micronutrient deficiency. Experts consider poor access to agricultural and health information a major barrier to the uptake of improved nutritional practises, particularly by women and vulnerable groups in marginalized areas.

mNutrition delivers content to people at risk of malnutrition in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. An expert consortium on nutritional matters—BMJ, CABI, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Oxfam International—is partnering with local organizations in these countries to produce useful and reliable nutritional, agricultural and health information, which is then distributed through mobile phone networks in each country.

The Nutrition Knowledge Bank is searchable by country and subject. The messages and factsheets are available in several local languages and take into account the differing cultural contexts. The topics covered include breastfeeding advice for new mothers, practical tips for rearing dairy cows and growing healthier crops for human consumption.

Janneke Hartvig Blomberg, Senior Manager at GAIN, says: “While we recognize that nutrition knowledge and information alone is insufficient to change behaviour, it is an important part of improving the overall awareness and understanding of nutrition by individuals as part of a broader approach to change nutrition related behaviours.”

The groups who can make most use of the Nutrition Knowledge Bank include mobile network operators, agriculture and health ministries, agricultural support workers, community organizations and development practitioners. More content will be uploaded over time, providing continuous improvement of this new practical resource for directly helping people make informed choices that improve their nutrition wellbeing.

John Makina, Country Director, Oxfam Malawi, says: ‘’Knowledge is power and the mNutrition Knowledge bank is the power to improved nutrition status, food security and economic empowerment of people especially women and children. Access and effective use of the knowledge bank by Agriculture and Nutrition players for the benefit of the rural smallholder farmers is the key to sustainable development.’’

About the consortium

BMJ is a healthcare knowledge provider that aims to advance healthcare worldwide by sharing knowledge and expertise to improve experiences, outcomes and value.  www.bmj.com

CABI is a not-for-profit international organization that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. www.cabi.org

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization launched at the UN (Special Session on Children in 2002) to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. We act as a catalyst – bringing together governments, business and civil society – to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition. www.gainhealth.org

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works to improve food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for better and more sustainable use of livestock. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global research partnership of 15 centres working with many partners for a food-secure future. www.ilri.org

Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. www.oxfam.org.uk

Find out more

How mNutrition is empowering women farmers

Analyzing the nutrition landscape of 14 countries

How cellphones are improving nutrition in South Africa and Asia

Follow GAIN on Twitter

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Published 17 February 2017