In Ouagadougou, Bamako and Niamey
The MERIEM project brings together a pool of experts seeking to reconcile social objectives and economic profitability to contribute to the prevention of malnutrition. 7 partners from NGOs, the world of research and consultants working in the private sector are working in collaboration with local stakeholders (Ministries, businesses, research institutes, NGOs, community groups). Together, they are striving to demonstrate how marketing solutions can contribute to preventing all forms of malnutrition in urban areas.
Questions and answers
Transparency is a fundamental principle of the MERIEM project. Below we publish 5 answers to the questions we are most often asked about the project.
Why work in cities rather than in rural areas where rates of malnutrition are higher?
Precarious neighbourhoods located in peri-urban areas in large cities have high rates of malnutrition, high rates of under-nutrition and a rapid increase in rates of excess bodyweight. Despite these challenges, very few stakeholders in the fight against malnutrition are working in urban areas. Yet it is via cities, where the greatest number of people consuming manufactured products live, that new practices can emerge and spread in a society. This is why the MERIEM project is testing innovative solutions in large Sahelian cities.
Why not target solely poor populations with low incomes?
To develop an affordable product range and remain profitable, consumers need to be able to purchase the products in large quantities on a regular basis. Otherwise, we know there is a possibility that the product range may not be sustainable over the long term. As part of the project, fortified food products will be accessible to the vast majority of the population, mainly in the intermediary category (quintiles B to D) and poorest (E) socio-economic levels, representing people targeted by food and nutritional assistance programmes.
Why propose quality fortified food products?
These food products make it possible for future mothers to improve the quality of their diet, in particular via intake of vitamins and minerals, and thereby to contribute to protecting their baby during pregnancy. Quality fortified food products also have the advantage of providing all the nutrients necessary for the nutritional requirements of young children (as a complementary food), in volumes adapted to suit their small stomachs, while also being affordable and quick to prepare. They are in line with international and national quality standards, and comply with legislation on marketing (according to the World Health Organisation Code). They are attractive and correspond to food uses in cities.
Can quality fortified food products suffice to prevent malnutrition?
Malnutrition has multiple direct (inadequate diet and illnesses) and underlying causes. Marketing of fortified food products is therefore not the sole response to the problem of malnutrition. It is inseparable from actions conducted by the public sector to raise awareness on better practices in terms of eating, hygiene and healthcare. This is why, although the MERIEM project seeks primarily to understand how marketing fortified food products can be one sustainable solutions to contribute to preventing malnutrition, it also includes a component focusing on support for the public sector to implement dans awareness-raising campaigns and a regulatory and legislative framework.
Why work with the local private sector?
The MERIEM project considers that the local private sector has strong untapped potential to contribute to sustainably preventing malnutrition in the Sahel, as imported products are not affordable for the majority of the population. It intends to open up economic opportunities for manufactured fortified food products, provided they are of good quality and affordable for the majority of people. Fortified food products will be produced using local raw materials, and encouraging local agriculture in so far as possible.