USAID Takes Over Production of Medika Mamba
In an effort to combat malnutrition among Haitian infants and youth (about 22 percent of Haitian children under five years of age are malnourished), the nonprofit Meds and Food for Kids distributes medika mamba, otherwise known as Plumpy’Nut, a peanut butter-based food that helps provide nutrition for malnourished children.
Medika mamba will soon be distributed in Guatemala as a result of UNICEF programming. However, the good news comes to a halt there.
The World Food Program has announced that they will no longer be buying products from Meds and Food for kids because they are now able to obtain a soy-corn based product from USAID free of charge. This change will cause Meds and Food for Kids to lose half of their yearly income.
Moreover, this decision is having a negative impact on the Haitian community. Ten years ago a factory was opened (spearheaded by pediatrician Patricia Wolff) to produce medika mamba in order to help treat malnourishment through local products. If the budget cuts force the factory to close, about 42 people will lose their jobs and hundreds of peanut farmers will lose one of their main buyers.
The factory had recently been doing very well, increasing the amount of peanuts they were buying from farmers by 50 percent. Wollf claims “that with assured international aid buyers for medika mamba, the factory could boost production year on year, creating economies of scale and a sustainable local loop of supply and demand.”
WFP asserts that while they understand the value in having Haiti use local products to help their own community, because their nutrition related activities are now secured by USAID’s Kore Lavi Food Voucher Program, they are unable to continue purchasing goods from the Meds and Food for Kids organization. While the Kore Lavi program will still provide aid, it will not give Haitain individuals the same ability to provide for themselves like the medika mamba factory has.
– Jordyn Horowitz
Sources: The Guardian, Nutriset, Meds & Food for Kids, WFP