Moringa to Combat Nutrient Deficiencies

Short description

Students in Tanzania are developing strategies to integrate the extremely nutritious Moringa plant into the daily diet to prevent diseases caused by nutrient deficiencies in childhood.

Which problem do we aim to solve and why?

Besides malnutrition, the lack of nutrients is one of the biggest problems of the African continent. An unbalanced, one-sided diet is mainly responsible for a poor immune system and the consequential diseases. Therefore, we propose to supplement the existing food by means of the Moringa tree, whose leaves contain many nutrients in high concentrations. The widespread use of Moring leaves can strengthen the health and immune system of the local population.

Our solution

Our approach to reduce nutrient deficiencies among children in Africa is based on a plant already prevalent on the continent and which is gaining popularity in the Western world as a “superfood”. The leaves of the Moringa, contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges. In addition, the leaves are rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium and other nutrients.

School projects should promote the use of the plant: A project manager conducts a half-year project at 2-3 schools. He or she makes pupils aware to the problems of nutrient deficiency, plants Moringa trees with the children and discusses the benefits of the plant. In particular, they work out how Moringa can be integrated into the daily diet. During the project, the project manager trains a teacher who becomes the “Moringa-designee” of the school and is responsible for the project. If the parents are interested, training is given to the village community as well.

Why is our idea innovative, new and different?

The idea is innovative as it allows the solution to be developed locally. It is not enough to know that the Moringa has many advantages, as long as people do not know how to use them. Since the local population knows much better what taste they prefer, one should let them find out how they can make use of the benefits of Moringa in their way. Once this goal is achieved, the population no longer needs to be convinced of the use.

How is our idea feasible?

Through an international youth volunteer service (IJFD), we are in contact with a school in Tanzania interested in the idea. New IJFD-volunteers shall start the project. The partners are interested in cultivating the Moringa tree so that a long-term effect is ensured in the case of success. Before the first harvest, Moringa seeds must be bought. The costs for this are manageable. If successful, the idea can be transferred to many schools.

Which technologies, channels or methods are we planning to use?

Our approach to solutions is based on design thinking. The students work with the IJFD-volunteers to develop ideas on how to use Moringa in meals. After several attempts in a trial-and-error process, we hope to have discovered various tasty meals. This learning process encourages independent learning and working of the students and their creativity.

If the finding process of tasty meals was successful, the pupils shall be taught the cultivation of Moringa trees.

What outcome and what improvements do we expect? How do we measure these?

Whether the lack of nutrients is reduced can be measured indirectly by comparing the number of days of absence of the students and the improvement of school performance in country-wide school comparisons (which already exist). The health, concentration skills and overall performance of the pupils is increased by better nutrient supply. Some deficiencies can also be seen on the body (for example, increased calcium intake leads to less brittle fingernails). Furthermore, sports performance should increase.

Our budget planning & acquisition of potential partners

Important partners are the IJFD sending organization and schools in Tanzania. Perhaps even more agricultural expertise would be helpful.

Budget: seeds approx. 500 €, equipment approx. 500 €, cooperation + training for volunteers: approx. 2500 €, helpers on site: approx. 1000 €. Financing for 2 years.

Moringa to Combat Nutrient Deficiencies

Team: Christoph Raphael Lehmann
(Uni Tübingen)
Thomas Hettig
(Uni Bonn)

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