15 million Afghans to benefit from new food fortification partnership launched by KBZF, WFP, GAIN and Afghan govt

KABUL: A new partnership aiming to reach approximately 15 million Afghans with nutritionally fortified wheat flour, vegetable oil and ghee was launched yesterday by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation (KBZF), Afghan Ministry of Public Health, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

KBZF, the main donor of the project, is UAE’s humanitarian major with the mission of delivering humanitarian aid and services to poor populations.

The partnership aims to reduce the prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies among the general population and vulnerable groups such as children under five and women of reproductive age, through a project supporting the Government’s Nutrition Action Framework to address malnutrition.

The project will bring on board the largest vegetable oil producers and wheat flour millers exporting to or producing in Afghanistan while equipment and nutrient blends will be provided to industry along with training in quality assurance.

“Studies revealed that two thirds of Afghan children suffer from malnutrition, 30% of the population do not receive healthy food, residents of remote areas suffer food shortage and 57% of the population do not have access to clean healthy drinking water. Afghanistan globally ranks third in terms of child mortality and second in term of maternal mortality. Based on this, KBZF decided to enter into a -4-year partnership with GAIN to provide healthy food fortified with vitamins, minerals and iron to reach out to 15 million Afghans, about half of the country’s population,” Deputy Director General of KBZF Mohammed Ali Al Bastaki said at the launch ceremony.

“KBZF’s health strategy is preventive as statistics reveal that 925 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition which is the direct cause of the death of around 3.5 children a year and the indirect cause leading to the death of 11million children in developing countries, Al Bastaki added.

The humanitarian help to Afghanistan by the UAE under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan were lauded by Afghan Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil, Executive Director of GAIN Marc Van Ameringen and WFP Afghanistan Country Director and Representative Louis Imbleau in remarks at the ceremony.

“The contributions of KBZF, GAIN and WFP are much appreciated – in these difficult times of recovery, the project will strengthen the health of our people and our economy,” the Afghan Minister of Public Health was quoted as saying by a WFP’s press release.

“Access to good nutrition is a human right that no individual should be denied. We are pleased to support this national initiative that will make a real difference in the everyday lives of millions by engaging multiple partners across different sectors,” the Executive Director of GAIN Marc Van Ameringen said.

GAIN is providing financial support and technical expertise to produce the fortified foods, monitor their quality, create demand and develop technical guidelines for fortification.

WFP Afghanistan Country Director and Representative Louis Imbleau added, “Chronic malnutrition, especially among women and children, is a terrible burden for the people of Afghanistan, both in terms of health and economic productivity. Micronutrient fortification is a cost-efficient intervention that can really help tackle this problem.” WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, is the key agency supporting overall program implementation in Afghanistan.