One of the most effective interventions to address severe childhood malnutrition and resulting deaths (estimated to be as much as 10 percent of children under 5 years old, every ten weeks) is treatment with ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) such as the peanut-based Plumpy’Nut produced exclusively by Nutriset, a private company in France.
Indeed, as reported in The Economist, some of the first shipments of aid into the hardest hit areas included Plumpy’Nut. However, due to high prices, long lead times, and the high cost of transport, aid organizations in Eastern Africa are intent on sourcing locally-available RUTF.
The Chemonics-implemented USAID East Africa Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (COMPETE) program, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is responding to needs in eastern Africa by supporting local production of RUTF.
A regional project, COMPETE is working with Insta Products Ltd., one of only seven global suppliers of RUTF recognized by UNICEF, to meet local demand. In 2010, COMPETE provided Insta with a grant to purchase two improved packaging machines that tripled the company’s production capacity to 900 cartons, or 12.4 MT, per day.
Earlier in 2011, Insta competed for and was awarded a UNICEF Long Term Agreement to supply RUTF over the next two years, with an initial order of 500 MT, which equates to 36,230 cartons or 32,348 children (7-8.4 kg) receiving an eight-week treatment of RUTF. Insta’s RUTF is distributed in refugee camps in northern Kenya, and provides desperately-needed nutrition for malnourished infants and children.