14 August 2005


I was interested to read Africa's miracle food: plumpy'nut:

Plumpy’nut — a fortified peanut butter stuffed with milk and vitamins — is just the sort of food that overweight Western children are advised to avoid. But for malnourished children it has an amazing effect, making it the undisputed hero of the current crisis in Niger, where 3.6 million people — 800,000 of them children — face severe food shortages.

Within two days, Hilinki’s weight has climbed from 4.6kg to 5kg (10lb to 11lb). She will stay at the clinic for a further three days and receive six meals a day. Nearly all of it will be plumpy’nut — a merging of the words peanut and plump — which can add as much as 1kg (2.2lb) a week to a hungry child’s weight.


Plumpy’nut was created by André Briend, who spent years working in humanitarian crises. He realised that a ready-to-eat supplement that needs no cooking or added water, and is cheap to produce, could help to save millions of lives in remote and under-developed areas. Plumpy’nut is now produced in Normandy by a company that specialises in food relief, in partnership with Unicef, the United Nation’s children’s organisation.


The success of plumpy’nut, which is normally given for four weeks at a cost of £12, in treating that problem is raising some awkward questions, particularly for the governments whose children stand to benefit.

“It is cheap to produce and deliver, so why is it not being manufactured locally and given to children all over Africa?” asks Adrian Hartley, a white Kenyan author and commentator on Africa. “These governments always have money to buy their Mercedes cars and guns — so why not some plumpy’nut?"

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