MOBILE BASED INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR NUTRITION DRIVEN AGRICULTURE TO COMBAT HIDDEN HUNGER IN AFRICA



The project explores how information systems can be used to address the problem of hidden hunger in rural African communities. Hidden Hunger occurs when there is enough energy consumption by individuals but insufficient consumption of essential nutrients, resulting in health problems, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity.
This project is aimed to address the first three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

HIDDEN HUNGER


What is Hidden Hunger?


A rich intake of proteins, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients are vital for improving birth weight, growth, and cognitive development of a child. It leads to lower levels of child mortality. This also affects the physical and mental function in adults.
More than 26% of preschool children in Kenya, 37 % in Nigeria and 33 % in South Africa are stunted, in other words short for their age. This condition represents a chronic form of undernourishment in early life and leads to irrecoverable physical and mental development.


A person may have access to a sufficient amount of calories but lack adequate micronutrients. This lack of micronutrients is often hidden as individuals always looks alright, but it impacts negatively for lifelong health and wellbeing. It has been found that nearly 18 million babies are born with a brain damage in a year due to iodine deficiency. Nearly 50,000 women die during child birth due to severe anemia that causes by iron deficiency.


HIDDEN HUNGER ACROSS LIFE CYCLE




Most people who suffer from Hidden Hunger habitually eat large amonuts of high calary staple foods with low micronutrients and eat less amounts of food with high micronutrients. This is one of the major reason for Hidden Hunger.


COMBATING HIDDEN HUNGER

Objectives

  • Understand how information systems can be used to address the problem of hidden hunger in rural African communities
  • explore ways to minimise hidden hunger by helping communities to identify how to improve the diversity and quality of their diets and to identify crops that can be grown in their geographical location

Approach

  • Phase 1: Household Level
  • Phase 2: Community Level

Phase 1: Household Level

A workflow at household level is desinged where users will provide information about their household diet as the main input. According to this data, missing food groups are identified. Those food groups are mapped with crops that grow in the user location and can address the dietary deficiency. This crops list is provided to the user with further information, so that they can decide appropiate crops to grow based on their requirements and available resources.

Phase 2: Community Level

While data at the household level is important to start understanding what food is available and consumed by the population, we now know there is a need for a broader scope to solve this issue at community levels. For the second phase of the project, we plan to create a mobile-based social network to increase awareness and interaction of people within the community to hidden hunger and to provide strategies to overcome this problem. This social network is an information system where people get connected and see each others’ activities related to mitigation of hidden hunger including food survey, location information and crops being grown.

OUTCOMES

The system prototype has been developed as a mobile app for Android devices with relevant information about three countries (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa). It has a simple registration process, which users can register in the application providing their personal information. Once registered, they can complete a household level food survey where they can select the foods they consumed in the last 24 hours. At the end of it,tabulated responses are displayed as a summary. The app has enabled a feature to navigate to recommeded crops, and get further information about them.


RESEARCH TEAM




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