ESPRI Moringa is an incubator initiative aimed at developing holistic model solutions to chronic malnutrition.
What is it?
More Trees ~ Healthy People ~ Improved Economies
What it is not?
A quick fix...
Chronic malnutrition is largely a rural phenomenon that affects mostly young children and pregnant/nursing mothers. It accounts for 35% of Burkina Faso's extremely high child mortality rate. (3rd highest in the world!)
A Promising Solution:
Our Story of how ESPRI Moringa came to be...
In addition to being lovers of green superfoods, we are yogis with a mission to help improve the quality of life for all people. Here in Burkina Faso, we've worked in the spheres of maternal health, education, and agroecology since 1985. ESPRI (Entrepreneriat Social et Production Rural Integree) is AMURT's nascent social entrepreneurship program structured with the objective of developing holistic model solutions to rural poverty. AMURT began its experience in social enterprise back in 2009 with ESPRI-Sel, a long-term initiative targeting the reduction of Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) in Haiti through the introduction of innovative methods of modernized salt production to fulfill the domestic demand. ESPRI Moringa is a similar pilot initiative targeting the problem of chronic malnutrition in Burkina Faso.
Nearly all of the pregnant women we see during our monthly antenatal control programs in the Sahel suffer from some kind of micro-nutrient deficiency. Children here are also commonly affected by vitamin A deficiency, a general lack of protein and other nutrition-related disorders. The current, imported solutions to malnutrition in the region seemed to us not enough. And as the link between malnutrition and poverty is undeniable, we set out to work with communities to create a social entrepreneurial approach to poverty reduction that results in more durable solution.
Moringa grows naturally in most regions of Burkina Faso, but people are simply not accustomed to cultivating the tree. In 2010, we started growing intensive plots of moringa at our model farm and community center located in Bissiri village. We found that it grows fast, requires minimal inputs and produces a lot of nutritionally rich leaves. We experimented with drying and powdering leaves, which is traditionally done here with other types of leaves as a means to preserve them throughout the seasons. The powder looked and tasted great, and only a couple spoonfuls can provide a person with nearly all their daily micronutrient needs.
Health Benefits of Moringa Leaves
Since 2010, a network of farmers became inspired about moringa and planted over 25,000 trees in Bissiri village alone. We are partnering with the Fulbes Pottal Women's Association to process and package dried moringa leaves. The leaf transformation process we have created with them is hygienic, practical and low-cost. We are now entering the distribution and commercialisation phase of this program where we aim to expand the demand by promoting moringa products and popularising consumption. That's where YOU come in...
Help us to get through this next phase!
Your support will assist us to:
-Reinforce groups to effectively manage all aspects of moringa production, processing and packaging.
-Train and mobilize community health promoters & start-up entrepreneurs to educate people about dangers of chronic malnutrition and how regular moringa consumption can help.
-Secure certifications for pharmacy and rural clinic distribution.
-Provide a 1-year guarantee for moringa growers and Fulbes Pottal Womens Association in Bissiri.
-Establish a working model that can influence policy decisions related to malnutrition.
A Wise Investment:
Studies show that eliminating under-nutrition in young children has multiple benefits. It can:
-Boost gross national product in Africa by 11%.
-Improve school attainment by at least one year.
-Increase wages by 5-50%.
-Reduce poverty, as well nourished children are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults.
Some Risks and Challenges:
We're working with groups of individuals who have never produced marketable goods in a cooperative way. In order to ensure the consistency and efficiency of the operation, we need to build capacities. We strive to do this in a participatory way, which is both an interesting and gradual process. Though, it is well worth the time as stakeholders develop a crucial sense of ownership in the role they are playing in various aspects of the model.
A significant challenge is that we want to make moringa products available and affordable to people who already have constrained incomes. Though we figure if people can somehow continue to afford really unhealthy, imported commodities, they have capacities to make investments in their health. Educating consumers is a gradual process demanding both ingenuity and resources.
This is a grassroots operation and we acknowledge the challenges of scaling and increasing production volume, if demand proves inspiring. We know how to scale, but the process takes time. The AMURT team, Fulbes Pottal Women's Association and other local partners are committed to making this ESPRI model a success.
The initial $5500 will make it possible for us to:
- Purchase a mill to produce a better quality powder & product.
-Provide 6 month guarantee for farmers/processing group while we get our product on the market.
-Produce marketing materials and secure certifications
The remaining $3800 will be used to:
-Hire a F/T employee to train rural health promoters, create and maintain relevant partnerships, get moringa products on the market, etc!
-Tile & paint processing facilities making them fully hygienic.
-Guard 6% as a contingency to be used for additional trainings, transportation, logistics, etc.