Eating well is more than just having enough food on your plate; it’s also about having a good mix of nutrient-dense food. Poor households struggle with both getting enough to eat and having enough variety to be healthy. They also have to deal with higher rates of disease, particularly diarrhea. It doesn’t matter how well you eat if your body doesn’t have the time and energy to extract the nutrients out of your food.
Women and children are often the most affected by malnutrition, due to social and cultural biases that prioritize providing food to men as the heads of households. Pregnant women and their babies are particularly vulnerable, which can cause irreversible, lifelong consequences for a child’s physical and cognitive development during the critical first 1,000 days of life.
iDE creates market systems that value diversity in what farmers grow and what people eat, to respectively increase their incomes and the health of their families. We connect farmers with the seeds necessary to diversify their crops, the knowledge about how to cultivate these new crops, and vital tools, such as drip irrigation or solar-powered water pumps, to ensure they are able to successfully bring in this new harvest. These new fruits and vegetables increase the nutrition in their own diets, as well as the diets of the markets they serve. Nutrient-rich food not only reduces the risk of health problems, but it also provides people with more energy and the mental ability to be successful.
Promoting behavior change, providing affordable toilets, and developing hand-washing technologies complement one another in the necessary fight against chronic malnutrition arising from waterborne diseases. Our approach to building markets for sanitation examines behaviors to determine if an awareness campaign is necessary to educate households about the links between poor hygiene and diarrhea.