Eden Project Food Week 2005 Lady Anne Prance, Title: “Hidden Hunger – the importance of micro-nutrients in the diet” Referring to cases in the developing world and UK.

Fifteen percent of the world’s people are disabled; eighty percent live in developing countries, one-third are children.  Most are not born with these conditions which are preventable and can be reversed.

IMPACT foundation is a UK-based charity which supports trusted local partners involved in cost effective and practical action  in the developing world and the UK.  The charity tackles avoidable diseases and disabilities caused by malnutrition, poor water quality, lack of  access by people to immunisation.  These are all areas that IMPACT deals with as well as early diagnosis of disabling conditions,  bringing surgery to the people using trains, boats and mobile clinics they are involved in improving safety of motherhood and child survival.

Lady Anne Prance highlighted some of the work IMPACT foundation is supporting in Bangladesh, the Philippines and the UK.

Bangladesh

Mothers clubs teach cooking – and how to use ingredients they hadn’t found for some time.  Before IMPACT arrived they had few vegetables for sale.
After two years the tables were full of vegetable and fruit. Women were empowered, previously women were dejected as their husbands were not earning enough.

Immunisation campaign with an elephant local children had banners saying when they were immunised.   They have a ‘River of life’ – hospital ship run by Bangladeshi’s they concentrate on ear, nose, throat, eye and orthopaedic work. Wherever it anchors there are lessons on home gardening and seeds are given out.

One story was of a woman found in distress, her husband had died and she had three children – all she wanted to do was die. The IMPACT worker helped her cultivate her garden, she was resurrected and two years later she had rented a piece of land based on the income of the first garden. She had planted 5 mahogany trees as she said her daughter would need a dowry in ten years time. She can now plan for the future, this is what improved nutrition can do.

Philippines

IMPACT works closely with the Nutritional Centre for the Philippines.

Shortages of nutrition in a balanced diet cause  symptoms including goitres, mental retardation, vision problems, poor development, poor foetal development poor immune systems and development of teeth and bones.

The Philippines colleagues were interested in fortification of foods.  For example
in one valley there were major problems of goitres and 70% of children had mental retardation. A local business started adding iodide to salt.  This led on to adding iodine to the salt becoming the norm.

A lot of education mothers brought their children into schools to be weighed.
The schools are highly organised this is where they have zeroed in on malnutrition.  In Bangladesh focus has been on communities and families by contrast in the Philippines they have a different model.  They are teaching the teachers who are teaching the children who teach the parents.  Special classes are organised – ‘Little doctor – little nurse’ where the children weigh and measure each other.  The children are taught to keep the records to see who are loosing weight or not gaining weight,  this is combined with maths and science classes.
The stunted children are put on a special diet everyday for three months – the mothers make the meals.

The children are made to feel special, lunches are set out attractively with flower arranged on the table. Some of the plants are grown around the school and used in the meals and also used for science lessons. They can take the plants home and they have to write a report for school of how they grew.

Blind people are learning to select food plants by touch so they can select them in their gardens.  Children with eye and hearing defects – they are able to select their eye glasses and hearing aids – they are given these at special prize giving.  Children have very good access to literature which they take home as home work to learn reading homework with their parents.

In slums in metro Manila – where there is no space people grow vegetables and herbs in half pop bottles, improving their primary health reducing coughs colds and diarrhoea.

In addition to fortification of food FAITHFood Always in the Home is a program to provide cheaper and better way to ensure sufficient nutrition.  This promotes very intense gardening with ducks and hens – rotation of crops to keep down diseases and trellises to grow climbing food crops on.  One interviewee only spent 3% of what she once spent on food.

UK – Haywood’s Heath 

This is an example of an area of extreme nutrient deficiency and obesity, a food dessert with corner shops stocking just a few fruit.

Fork to Fork
Abandoned allotment are used to show people what can be done.  Boys excluded from school have been working on the allotments,  overcomes behavioural problems and they become very knowledgeable about what can be grown..
Some people enquired if it was possible to have allotments set up in their gardens – which the boys did.

Cookery classes
The food produced on the allotments is used for cookery demonstrations.  The level of knowledge of diet cooking and fruit and vegetables locally is very poor.  Clients are referred by their GP’s and local health trust – people who really want help in this area.  We trained a group of volunteers because although they could cook well, they need to be trained to use the right language and simple recipes.
Marguerite Pattern has played a role in this training.  We all eat and talk together and talk about nutrition.  Ethnic diversity in the group has led to the introduction exotic herbs and spices.

Allot of the work is with young unmarried mothers who lack the knowledge about cooking food and nutrition.  Another group needing help with cooking and food nutrition is the large number of elderly gentlemen left alone or with an invalid wife who are often very shy.

Co-operatives
A new community centre has land to grow fruit and vegetables around it this allowed the development of a food co-operative.

In summary there are two key aspects of solving hidden hunger.
1, Education.
2, Improved local sources and availability of  good healthy food.

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About cornucopiaalchemy

Dr. Andrew Ormerod has 14 years experience working as the Economic Botanist at the Eden Project - researching topical stories, artefacts, ethnobotanical inks, catering and retail links to exhibits. Previously I was involved with plant breeding and plant tissue culture working on a range of crops including winter cauliflowers, agricultural lupins, vining peas, wheat and barley and coconuts. I am now freelance and am interested in opportunities for lecturing; writing articles; consultancy linked to development of botanic gardens for crops based exhibits; supply chain work for unusual food or non-food crops with interesting stories about plants and people attached to them.
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