Background of GNIP launch
The first 1,000 days, “Window of Opportunity”
The first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from the time of conception until their 2nd birthday, is a very important period. It is known as “window of opportunity”. If a child does not get enough nutrition during this period, it can cause problems to the brain and the immune system. It is said that the growth retardation of children during the period cannot be recovered even by sufficient nutrition intake in the subsequent stage of their lives.
One in five children are stunted due to malnutrition in Ghana
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) reports that 19% of children in the country are stunted (that is, too short for their age due to malnutrition)*. The level is more than 30% in northern part of Ghana.
*Ghana Demographic and Health Survey 2014
Globally, stunting is one of the major nutritional deficiency indicators for children under five. It has negative effects such as cognitive impairment, low intelligence quotient (IQ) and low productivity later in life. The dire nature of nutritional challenges among children (under five years old) in Ghana calls for sustained efforts to improve the situation.
Low protein and micro-nutrient content of typical complementary foods cause infant malnutrition.
Typical traditional porridges given as complementary foods (ex. Koko) are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and micro-nutrients. A consumer research conducted by The Ajinomoto Foundation (TAF) in August 2018 found that 84% of mothers in Ghana feed Koko to their babies. This may be a contributing factor to the cases of infant malnutrition reported in the country.
“KOKO Plus”, a nutritious product for addressing infant malnutrition in Ghana
The GHS works with several organizations to address infant malnutrition in Ghana. To support their efforts, Ajinomoto Company Inc. (Japan) partnered with the University of Ghana and several other collaborators such as GHS, JICA, USAID, INF (USA), Yedent, CARE, Plan Ghana and many others to develop a ready-to-use infant nutritious product based on WHO recommendations in 2009. This is the beginning of the Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project (GNIP). The result of almost 10 years of collaborated study is a protein and micro-nutrient powder to be added to complementary foods, called “KOKO Plus”.
Multi-stakeholder Partnership is the key for success.
In April 2017, the GNIP was transferred to TAF to realize more social impact in collaboration with public sectors (such as the GHS). Then, KOKO Plus Foundation was established for acceleration of expansion of the project. We think it is essential to have partnership with wide range of stakeholders such as the local government, local academia, local private companies, international NGOs, international aid agencies etc. In September 2018, TAF signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the GHS for collaborative activities to improve the nutritional status of Ghanaian infants. Base on this MoC, we are expanding our collaborative activities in Ghana.
Eating nutritious food is essential to the lives of people.
We strengthen our effort to provide nutrition education and supply “KOKO Plus”
for brighter future of children.