GAIN’s Workforce Nutrition programme aims to improve the nutrition of workers and farmers in low- and middle-income countries or communities. The programme focuses on improving the access and demand for healthier diets using existing business structures as entry point (workplaces or supply chains). Indeed, employers and buyers in supply chains can play an important role in improving workers’ diets, ideally as part of a broader approach to worker well-being featuring living wages, gender empowerment and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
The programme builds on evidence which shows that employers also benefit from effective workforce nutrition programmes: iron deficiency, low or high-body mass indices, and hypoglycaemia from skipped meals all lower work capacity or productivity. Providing healthy and varied food choices at work can reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases and provide enough energy and nutrients to perform tasks: this in turn reduces rates of accidents and absenteeism, increases productivity, and decreases mistakes.
GAIN began its workforce nutrition programme in 2013. We currently work with partners in the tea sector (India and Kenya), cocoa sector (Ghana), garment sector (Bangladesh), and we are running pilots in a variety of industry sectors in Mozambique. Together with our partners, we continue to build and share knowledge on implementing cost-effective and feasible workforce nutrition models. In doing so, we build a business case for improving nutrition for workers and farmers to spark further investment and to inform our advocacy efforts to create sector-wide transformation. We aim to influence and improve nutrition standards and get these widely adopted within and across different industries.
GAIN has piloted several tea workforce projects in Kenya, India, Indonesia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Our latest project, called "Seeds of Prosperity", worked through tea supply chains to improve farmers’ and workers’ diets and hygiene practices in India (Assam and Tamil Nadu), Kenya and Tanzania, reaching over 64,000 estate workers, smallholder farmers and their families. In all four sites, we trained workers on how to incorporate a more diverse range of foods in their diets. In Malawi, we worked with partners to provide fortified maize in the lunches provided to workers. GAIN is currently implementing a strengthened design of the "Seeds of Prosperity" approach and aims to reach another 41,000 estate workers, smallholder farmers and their families in India (Assam) and Kenya by 2020.
In 2014, GAIN started working in the garment sector in Bangladesh. The project made more nutritious lunches available to workers through providing fortified rice and iron-folic acid supplementation. This significantly reduced anaemia levels among workers. Building on these efforts, we aim to contribute to healthier diets for over 50,000 garment workers by improving on the food which factories provide and increasing workers’ consumption of nutritious and safe foods when they return to their homes.
In the cocoa sector, GAIN is working with partners in Ghana to develop and prototype scalable nutrition interventions that can be delivered through existing private-sector partnerships within cocoa-growing communities. GAIN aims to reach 2,600 people in cocoa-farming communities, increasing demand for nutritious foods among workers and improving their access to these foods.
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