The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM)
The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) was launched in 2009 as a joint project of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ICCO, DSM, Unilever and AkzoNobel, the Wageningen University and GAIN. Today, AIM brings together around 30 partners to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to address malnutrition.
AIM uses a market-based approach and develops new social business models to ensure projects are financially sustainable in the long-term. The goal is to create systemic change and address barriers to market entry for nutritious products.
AIM’s strategy consists of three stages: the incubator stage, to conceptualize new project ideas; the piloting stage, where the market-based interventions are tested for nutritional impact and economic feasibility; and the roll-out, where successful pilot projects are scaled up.
Having evolved from an innovative conception period between 2009 and 2012, a number of AIM projects are now in the piloting stage. To find out more about these projects click on the links below or download the AIM factsheet.
Leveraging on the experiences and partnerships developed in the first phase of AIM, we are working on some new concepts and ideas to develop a set of new, innovative and market-based projects to reduce malnutrition. These projects follow the same logic of creating long term systemic change to food markets through social and inclusive business models which are financial sustainable in the long term.
One of these new projects is AIM for One Goal, which tests the feasibility of using football coaches (via the Royal Dutch Football Association’s World Coaches model) as a new delivery channel to reach adolescent girls with nutrition messaging in Kenya. Another new project focuses on exploring innovative ways to reduce post-harvest loss of nutritious foods in Indonesia.
Ultimately, AIM is focused on making markets work for nutrition and creating more sustainable food systems for healthy diets and nutritious foods. A new area currently being explored focuses on Urban Nutrition; aiming to understand what needs to be done to ensure increasingly urbanised populations have access to affordable nutritious food (See ‘Urban Nutrition’ tab for more information).
Vegetables for All
In northern Tanzania, the extreme wet and dry seasons make it difficult for the poorest consumers to access affordable vegetables. At the same time, there is a lack of awareness about the need to include vegetables in daily diets to meet nutritional needs. These issues are exacerbating already high levels of malnutrition in the region. In Kilimanjaro, 28% of children aged 0-59 months are stunted, and in Tanga the figure increases to 49%. Adults are affected too, with 35% of women aged 15-49 suffering with anaemia in Tanga.
Vegetables for All is being implemented as part of the Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) to help tackle this malnutrition problem. Activities are focused in the regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga in Tanzania and the project partners include the Dutch seed company Rijk Zwaan, the Rabobank Foundation, Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation, the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA), AVRDC (The World Vegetable Center) and GAIN.
The objective of Vegetables for All is to increase dietary diversity and micronutrient intake through increased consumption of fresh and dried vegetables by base of pyramid consumers. This is achieved through improving the quality and quantity of fresh and dried vegetables; strengthening the vegetable value chains to improve access and availability; and through targeted marketing and behavioural change communication campaigns to create demand for the products. Ultimately, we aim to enhance the availability, affordability and the consumption of nutritious foods to reduce malnutrition among Tanzanian families.
In South Africa, a high proportion of local vegetables do not make it to the supermarket shelves. This is largely due to the lack of quantity, quality and variety of local produce. The Rural Hubs project intends to change this using the Rural Hub concept as a sustainable business model that delivers fresh, affordable food to supermarkets by connecting them with local smallholder farmers.
The Rural Hub model is based on the idea of creating a central hub – or Fresh Assembly Point (FAP) – to enable produce from local smallholder farmers to be collected in one location to supply local retail stores. By connecting the local market-oriented smallholder farmers to FAPs, the cold chain is shortened and availability and affordability of local sourced fresh vegetables is improved.
Farmers are supported and empowered in their vegetable production by the provision of technical assistance, agricultural training and improved access to finance.
Once local stores are provided with more fresh nutritious produce, the project partners will embark on targeted campaigns demonstrating the importance of safe and nutritious food in a diverse diet enhancing the market pull for fresh produce. Ultimately, the project aims to increase vegetable consumption by the BoP consumers in South Africa by sustainably improving the access, affordability and consumption of nutritious foods in the long term.
SPAR International are the lead partner in the project, supported by SPAR South Africa, Rijk Zwaan, BoPInc and Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation. The Rural Hubs concept will be implemented in three locations in South Africa (Mopani, Eastern Mpumulanga and KwaZulu-Natal). This project acts as a proof of concept. If proved successful, SPAR aims to scale up the concept to other locations within South Africa and into other African countries.
In Nigeria, a staggering 48.5% of Nigerians live with anemia according to the Global Nutrition Report. Despite rapid GDP growth, Nigeria has made little progress in reducing poverty*. There is a strong need for more inclusive growth, specifically to boost opportunities for low-income women in rural areas*. Many companies are interested in serving lower-income consumers in fast-growing Nigeria, but have difficulties to market and distribute their nutritious products, especially in rural areas.
The objective of the AIM Home Fortification project is to develop a sustainable and inclusive distribution model for nutritious foods and food supplements. This is achieved by the empowerment of hundreds of rural sales ladies that not only sell (nutritious) products, but also act as behavioral change agents in the field of nutrition. The first campaign, promoting fortified bouillon cubes and the consumption of more green leafy vegetables, resulted in encouraging increase in sales and promising results in changing nutrition behavior. New campaigns are planned and the model will be optimized and scaled to achieve greater impact.
*Source: McKinsey Global Institute (2014) Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy
Nutrition in Cash Crops
Smallholder farmers and workers contribute significantly to global cash crop value chains, but still they remain nutritionally vulnerable. Our aspiration with the Cash Crops program is to develop a global nutrition program for cash crop value chains that is cost-effective, adaptable, replicable, scalable and sustainable.
Some 500 million people are small-scale farmers globally; meaning they rely on small family plots of land for their food production. Although small-scale farmers manage 80% of farmland in Asia and Africa, they often sell their most nutritious foods, and eat starchy foods such as rice, bread and wheat – inexpensive and filling, but lacking in essential nutrients such as iron and zinc, which are essential for good health.
A diverse diet – one incorporating many food groups – can be the difference between poor and good health, and high and low income. Poor hygiene is also a major challenge: diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old.
The objective of the program is to improve the quality of the diet of cash crop farmer families, both to smallholders and estate workers. We began with a pilot in the tea supply chain in Indonesia in 2013, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. After this initial pilot, GAIN partnered with Unilever and adapted the program, inspired by the 5 levers of change behavioural change methodology developed by Unilever, and tested this in tea and gherkin supply chains in Southern India.
Download our booklet Cash Crops First Results to see some of the first results from the pilot project in Indonesia. The simplicity and success of the program has led us to explore different sectors which could be suitable for this approach. In particular, we are now undertaking a pilot project in the Horticulture sector with SNV in Kenya, and exploring the suitability of a similar initiative in the cocoa sector in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
The Seeds of Prosperity Programme: making business work for nutrition, and nutrition work for business
Under the Seeds of Prosperity Programme: making business work Unilever, GAIN, and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) saw an opportunity to improve the nutrition and health of farmers, workers and their families in the supply chains, whilst working to increase supplier and worker satisfaction, productivity and brand loyalty.
This collaboration has continued and we are now scaling up activities in Tamil Nadu (India); beginning a pilot in Assam (India); and supporting a project with (IDH) involving the fortification of tea farmer lunches in Malawi. In total, 57,500 estate workers and smallholder farmers are being reached in India and Kenya and 18,000 workers in Malawi now receive fortified lunches.
Read more about the programme here. If you would like to get involved, please contact email@example.com
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 FAO (2012) Smallholders and family farmers
AIM for One Goal
Together with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), AIM for One Goal trains football coaches to teach adolescent girls how to play football and how to improve their nutrition awareness, food choices and life opportunities. It does so by using the expertise on football and life skills education of the existing KNVB WorldCoaches program and GAIN’s expertise on nutrition.
The project kicked off in July 2016 and includes 30 female coaches in football and nutrition training that work with around 600 girls and their families and wider communities. Targeting adolescent girls is important because this is a group that is often overlooked. The aim of this one-year pilot is to develop an approach that is innovative, that will last and that can be scaled up. So that in the end the nutrition of many more adolescent girls and their communities can be improved.
The project was preceded by a baseline study on nutritional awareness amongst adolescent girls. Currently, the project is running in Kisumu and in Kilifi. Because it is important to work with local partners that have their roots in the communities and know the context, partnerships with Kisumu Youth Football Association (KYFA) and Moving the Goalposts (MTG) have been established. A WorldCoaches manual on nutrition that the coaches are using was developed by the KNVB and GAIN teams by adapting materials on One Goal to Kenyan circumstances, thereby looking at what adolescent girls need specifically.