An end to hidden hunger
Undernourishment in Africa isn't just about extreme starvation. Millions of people on the continent also face a lack of key minerals and vitamins – known as 'hidden hunger'.
The effects of nutrient deficiencies on human health – especially children's – can be extremely serious. Unilever has taken action by setting up the Amsterdam Initiative on Malnutrition (AIM).
Nutrients for 100 million
AIM, a global project to get more foods fortified with key nutrients, is living up to its name by striving for a challenging target: to eliminate malnutrition for 100 million people in Africa by 2015, starting in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania.
It's a complex mission that will require the knowledge and experience of a wide range of organisations, so it's been set up as part of an existing partnership called GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), whose members include government bodies, academic institutions and companies.
GAIN is already fighting malnutrition in 28 countries and improving the health of 200 million people worldwide – but the time has come to step activities up a gear.
This is because the global recession has forced aid agencies to cut food programme funding, says GAIN member Bert Koenders, Dutch Minister for Development Co-operation. Bert points out that these cuts will contribute to pushing 100 million more people around the world into poverty this year, with Africa expected to be hardest hit.
Paulus Verschuren, Global Health Partnerships, Unilever, chairs the GAIN Business Alliance. He explains that Unilever's involvement isn't just about positive PR. "As well as its strongly principled stance, the business has a vested interest in the health, education and success of consumers in all our markets," he says.