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Food Security in Nigeria
Malnutrition has been labeled Nigeria’s silent crisis by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health. The most vulnerable group affected are children as up to one million children under the age of five are affected by severe acute malnutrition in Nigerian each year. Policy predictions about future access to nutrition continue to place food security in Nigeria as a pressing issue for government, NGOs and local organizations.

Chowberry

Oscar Ekponimo, a Nigerian entrepreneur, had personal experience with hunger as a child that led him to develop a cloud-based software app called Chowberry. When he was a child, his mom used to remind him that hunger was not forever, and he cites this reminder as one of the reasons that kept him going every day. The idea for the app came as he walked the aisles of a grocery store and came across a can of tuna about to expire. With the goal of reducing food waste by redirecting it to those in need, Chowberry combines technology with the missions of local NGOs to address the momentous issue of food security in Nigeria.

In fact, this app allows retailers to monitor and track food product expiration in order to allow customers to access deep discounts through the app’s algorithm. The discounts become larger the longer the food waits on the shelves. The beta version – a 3-month trial of the app – connected 300 users with 20 retailers that provided nutrition to approximately 150 orphans and vulnerable children through partnership with orphanages. This pilot program was a success as it allowed participating orphanages to cut down on spending by more than 70 percent.

The app also reaches non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are able to purchase food at reasonable prices and acquire more food for distribution. The app logs a list of the NGOs’ preferences and notifies them when it receives the type of food the charities need for their food distribution programs. As of right now, Ekponimo’s biggest challenge is fighting ‘red tape’ that makes larger companies slow to adopt the necessary technology.

Powerful Partnerships

There has been a growing demand for Chowberry’s services over the past few years, and the organization now has a team of nine in Abuja that works with 20 retailers. Chowberry partners with three local charities to enhance food security in Nigeria: the Afro Global Care Foundation, Hold My Hands Women and Youth Development Foundation and Thrifty Slayer.

Ekponimo doesn’t stop his social activism with Chowberry; he also delivers free training and mentorship to school-age children on how to tackle hunger, malnutrition and achieving sustainable development. His social entrepreneurship and commitment to addressing food security in Nigeria won Ekponimo the 2016 Rolex Award of Enterprise and the title of being named one of Time magazine’s Next Generation Leader for 2017.

Creating Sustainable Innovations and Improvement

Although Nigeria is Africa’s wealthiest and most populated country, more than half the people residing in its borders live below the poverty line. Furthermore, Northern Nigeria has the third highest rate of chronic undernutrition of children in the world, and the International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that approximately 300,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria over the coming year.

Food security remains at the forefront of challenges within th enation, and there is thus no doubt that the need exists for innovations like Chowberry.

– Georgie Giannopoulos
Photo: Flickr

 

ChowberryChowberry is an app combating hunger and food waste in Nigeria. The app was invented by Nigerian software developer Oscar Ekponimo. According to the Nigerian Tribune, Ekponimo has partnered with the program Project FoodAccess to connect impoverished Nigerians and non-governmental organizations with cheap food.

Chowberry works through several steps. The first step involves local grocery stores. As the store’s food products near their expiration dates, the stores begins reducing the food prices each day. The app alerts Nigerians and food organizations about the lowered food prices. Project FoodAccess specifically matches the food with families they register need it the most. These include families with young mothers and female breadwinners.

Chowberry helps to alleviate the problem of hunger, which affects Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 223 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry or malnourished from 2014 to 2016. Nigeria itself has been declared unable to feed its entire population by the World Food Programme.

Ekponimo himself has a personal experience with hunger. After his father had a stroke and could not work, his family could not afford to feed themselves. Chowberry has given Ekponimo the opportunity to help others going through similar situations.

The app has had a significant impact within different areas in Nigeria. The three-month trial run has fed 200 families and 150 orphans. Many Nigerians have requested that the program expand to more communities.

Chowberry also has assisted the 20 participating grocery stores. Food that would have been thrown out before now gets sold to families in need at a profit to the store. The helpful software has gained international recognition as well, winning the Rolex Award of Enterprise in 2016.

Ekponimo hopes that he can expand Chowberry to feed the hungry in other African countries. With continued innovation from people like Ekponimo, technology like Chowberry could be used to help put an end to hunger in Africa and around the globe.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr