- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Consumer company, Unilever is spearheading efforts to help reduce the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Nigeria, especially among women and adolescent girls through Knorr Force For Good program.
Globally, anaemia is said to affect almost a quarter of the world’s population that is 1.62 billion people. In Nigeria, almost one in two women of reproductive age and 75 per cent of children under five years suffer from anaemia. In Kenya, the prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age,15-49 was 25 per cent as of 2011 while that of children under five was 46.30 per cent.
Fifty per cent of these cases are caused by a lack of iron in the body, which is often diet-related. Some of the early symptoms of anaemia are fatigue and decreased ability to work and people with anaemia are also associated with an increased risk of mortality and cognitive loss in those who survive.
Knorr’s Force For Good includes visiting schools in rural areas where cases of anaemia are prevalent. The programme educates adolescent girls and their mothers on the importance of cooking more iron-rich nutritious meals through the Knorr Green Food Steps. The company, by contributing to efforts to improve the nutritional value of commonly consumed meals, increase the iron intake of the population, hopes to help decrease the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Nigeria.
By the end of 2016, the Knorr Force For Good programme reached 75,000 households (including mothers and daughters) through a four-week behavioral change programme. Knorr is now challenging itself to change the behavior of millions of mothers and teenage girls by making nutritious, iron fortified cooking more desirable and affordable.
A Scientific Study with the University of Ibadan indicated that 41 per cent of respondents from the states visited, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna, Abuja and Kogi, had started adding leafy, iron fortified vegetables and iron fortified cubes to their stew.
By end of 2017 the Force For Good programme will have reached 20 million direct and indirect contacts and the aim is to reach 100 million by 2020. One state where the programme has been particularly successful is in Kaduna where Unilever Nigeria has partnered with the Kaduna State Government to empower women and teenage girls through Knorr Force For Good and Women’s Empowerment Shakti. Partnerships like this are vital in helping Unilever Nigeria reach as many people as possible.
The Knorr Force For Good programme is just one of the many interventions that underlines Unilever’s commitment to ensure that “business must be part of the solution.” These brand social missions are integral to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, the company’s blueprint for a truly sustainable business, launched in 2010. They are helping to drive the vision to decouple growth from environmental impact while also increasing the company’s positive social impact.