We can’t be sure how many lives it has saved. Hundreds of thousands? Probably millions. This beautifully simple peanut paste has become an essential weapon in the fight against severe acute malnutrition in children.
In the early 90s, food manufacturer Nutriset joined forces with a French nutritionist, André Briend to work on a more resilient alternative to the therapeutic milk products being used to treat malnourished children. They tested several ideas – including pancakes, doughnuts and biscuits – before the idea to develop a ready-to-eat peanut paste emerged.
They called it Plumpy‘Nut.
Plumpy‘Nut is a powerful peanut-based paste with skimmed milk powder, sugar, vegetable fat, vitamins and minerals. Kids love it. And it can be the difference between their life and death.
Part of the reason for the success of the product is it’s easy to ship, store and administer. It doesn’t need to be cooked, it doesn’t need water or refrigeration, it can be used at home, it travels well and can be kept in the right conditions for up to 24 months.
So in places hit hard by hunger and malnutrition, Plumpy‘Nut has been a game changer for humanitarian organisations like Save the Children and the way we treat severely malnourished children.
This is 11-month-old Rachael and her mother Rebecca. Rachael is being treated for severe acute malnutrition at our stabilisation centre in Waat, South Sudan. Rebecca brought her daughter to the centre because she simply couldn’t find enough nutritious food for her daughter to eat.
“My child was losing a lot of weight, and stopped eating food or breastfeeding. At first she would not take the peanut paste either, but then she started being able to take one a day. She has started to put on some weight. I am very happy with what Save the Children has done for my child. Without help I am worried that she would not be alive.”
Tackling more than hunger
An estimated 45% of deaths of children under five are linked to malnutrition. This translates into the loss of about three million young lives every year. Malnutrition takes away all of a child’s strength, leaving them more susceptible to life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Plumpy‘Nut works quickly to replace lost nutrients and energy and to provide strength to undernourished young bodies.
A critically malnourished child on a regime of 2 to 3 sachets of Plumpy‘Nut per day can add enough weight to be on the road to recovery within six weeks. So for children facing death because they don’t have enough to eat, this tasty paste is literally a life-saver.
With the help of our supporters, Save the Children is able to ship thousands of tons of Plumpy‘Nut worldwide, to places where emergency food supplies are urgently needed.
Fighting the good fight
In recent years the fight to end malnutrition has been gathering momentum. In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals – developed by world leaders and the United Nations in 2015 – aim to eradicate malnutrition by 2030.
Clearly, we have a monumental challenge ahead. But by influencing government policy, supporting our teams on the ground in health centres and education programs, and by enabling families and communities to grow more diverse and resilient food, we’re confident our goals are achievable.
In the meantime, we salute Plumpy‘Nut and its creators. Here’s to 20 years of renewed hope and millions of lives saved. Let’s keep up the good work!
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