Project to reduce malnutrition in Asokore Mampong launched

The World Food Programme, in partnership with the Japanese Government and KOKO Plus, a private initiative, has launched a pilot project at Parkoso in the Asokore Mampong Municipality of the Ashanti region aimed at reducing malnutrition among infants in the Municipality in the next two years.
At the launch of the project, the Country Director of the World Food Programme, Rukia Yacoub explained that the nutrition intervention is also part of the WFP’s integrated strategic Plan for Ghana between this year and 2023 towards the attainment of Goal Two of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This Goal enjoins UN member nations to work towards Zero Hunger by 2030.

Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project.

The Ajinomoto Foundation spearheaded a public private partnership project in Ghana to help tackle childhood malnutrition through KOKO Plus, an affordable complementary feeding nutrition supplement via an inclusive social business model.

About the partnership  
The Ajinomoto Group started the Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project (GNIP) in 2009 as part of initiatives to commemorate its 100th year. The Group has since been steadily implementing the project in cooperation with the government of Ghana, University of Ghana, and other international NGOs and corporates. In April 2017, the project was transferred to The Ajinomoto Foundation to realise more social impact in collaboration with public sectors (such as Ghana Health Service).
Koko is a traditional complementary food in Ghana – porridge made from fermented corn. However, the levels of protein and micronutrients in koko do not meet the WHO’s nutrient requirements and dietary recommendations.
To address this nutrient gap, the Ajinomoto Group, in collaboration with various partners, developed KOKO Plus, a supplement containing amino acids, which is added to koko during cooking and provides sufficient nutrients for children, including Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Iodine, Folic Acid, Vit A, B1, B2, B6, Niacin, K1, D3, B12. The World Food Programme (WFP) verified the efficacy of KOKO Plus and registered it as a “Nutritious powder” in its food basket in February 2018.  The product was designed to meet the needs of local communities: it is affordable (USD 0.10/sachet/day); it is desirable (in line with local tradition and preferences); and it is accessible (available in kiosks and one-year shelf life improves access in rural areas).
The social business model for GNIP is based on national policies and works with private businesses in Ghana. Ajinomoto has provided people, goods, and financial and technical support to help establish a social business model which works with and through local companies, local distribution networks and local products.
Successful social business models require the input and commitment from a wide range of stakeholders, including for example local government, academia and private companies, as well as international NGOs and aid agencies. For GNIP, The Ajinomoto Foundation partnered with the following:
CARE International
ESM (social marketing company headquartered in South Africa)
EXP (marketing company headquartered in South Africa)
Ghana Health Service (GHS)
International Nutrition Foundation (INF)
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
University of Cape Coast
University of Ghana
University of Tokyo 
World Food Programme(WFP)
Yedent Agro Group  
To create a sustainable business model and market for a product that can help improve nutritional status of infants as parents begin complementary feeding practices in Ghana.
Overview of activities
The social business model developed for GNIP KOKO Plus programme has four components, which were addressed across four phases (see below). .
Public private engagement was particularly important for Phase 3 of GNIP. To ensure regular consumption of nutritious complementary foods, it was important to change the behaviour of mothers and caregivers. According to consumer research conducted by the Ajinomoto Foundation, GHS community health nurses were ranked as most influential with mothers because they were both familiar and highly trusted. Establishing a PPP between GHS and Ajinomoto was therefore critical to the success of this programme. See more on the KOKO Plus Behaviour Change Model and the rol
In a peer reviewed study conducted by researchers from University of Ghana, Tufts University, Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation and Ajinomoto, the authors concluded that: “KOKO Plus food supplement improved the nutritional profile of koko to satisfy the nutrient intake requirements of young infants as recommended by World Health Organization. KOKO Plus was microbiologically safe, with estimated shelf-life of more than 12 months.”
GNIP estimates that’s KOKO Plus has reached 9,000 children in 2017 and 20,000 children in 2018, with a target to reach 70,000 children in 2019. According to Ghana’s 2014 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the stunting rate for children under five is 18.8%. Calculating for population growth would mean in 2018, approximately 600,000 weaning-age children in Ghana are not getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
The Ajinomoto Foundation is planning to expand the project’s activity areas from 2019, so that by 2023, 300,000 weaning-age children will benefit from improved nutrition. Reaching this target would have a positive impact on society.

Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project: A Genuinely Synergistic Public Private Partnership.

At the first N4G Summit in 2013, 110 stakeholders committed to prevent at least 20 million children from being stunted – saving at least 1.7 million lives by 2020. These commitments deliver much-needed action on policy and financing commitments to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2—Ending Hunger in All its Forms—which is an underlying driver of 12 of the 17 SDGs. As we continue the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action, take a look at how pledges made during the N4G summits in London (2013) and Milan (2017), have brought about positive impacts on global nutrition.

According to the latest Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (2014), nearly 1 in 5 children under age 5 is stunted. The Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project (GNIP) aims to solve the problem of stunting during the weaning period (from 6 months to 2 years of age), which is caused mainly due to the insufficient content of essential nutrients in the traditional complementary food “koko” (fermented corn porridge). The mission of GNIP is to create a “Social Business Model” for improving child nutrition in a sustainable way without continuous aid. The Ajinomoto Foundation (TAF), a public interest foundation, acquired GNIP in 2017, after its launch in 2009 by Ajinomoto Co. Inc.,1 a global food and amino acid company. TAF is not involved in business but supports local partners to establish sustainable business. 

TAF has been working to improve the nutritional status of infants in Ghana through the introduction of a complementary food supplement named “KOKO Plus.” KOKO Plus is produced locally using locally available ingredients (soybean) supplemented with micronutrients and lysine to improve the amino acid balance. KOKO Plus is an evidence-based product (World Food Programme [WFP] registers KOKO Plus as a “Nutritious powder” in its food basket) and is designed to meet local needs: it is affordable (USD 0.10 /sachet /day); acceptable (for local tradition and preferences); and accessible (available in kiosks near health facilities and with a one-year shelf life). 

A sustainable social business model should be scalable and inclusive, meaning that all processes from product development, production, and distribution would be primarily carried out by local people. GNIP officially collaborated with Ghana Health Service (GHS) (concluding Memorandum of Cooperation in 2018) to co-create nutrition education tools and design a behavior-change process that applies the private sectors’ marketing intelligence. The process centers on a cycle of Awareness, Understanding, and Action. Health workers monitor and record children’s nutritional status (Awareness), and then they use simple pictures to educate mothers about basic nutrition knowledge and introduce KOKO Plus as a practical solution to improve child nutrition (Understanding). Once mothers understand the importance of nutrition and how to improve it, they get interested in KOKO Plus, and they purchase it from shops at the nearest health facility (Action).2 Mothers continue to use KOKO Plus once they see their children’s improved growth, and they become more confident. This cycle (Awareness, Understanding and Action) continues monthly and reinforces the mother’s behavior change.

Collaboration with GHS started in 2018, and in 2019, an estimated 47,000 beneficiaries (children fed KOKO Plus) and 3,000 nurses participated in the collaboration. The number of beneficiaries is expected to increase to 450,000 children by 2023. The growth in the number of beneficiaries has been significantly accelerated. The following factors contributed to this success:

For the successful duplication or scaling up of the public-private partnership (PPP) model, it is important to establish a memorandum of understanding/cooperation at the national level; additionally, to execute the collaborative activities, it is also essential to have mutual communication on the ground at the regional and district levels. By openly sharing challenges/problems and understanding the competencies/assets of each party, we could work together successfully and produce genuinely synergistic impacts. 
We believe our efforts with KOKO Plus will contribute to strengthening the nutrition services of GHS’s health facilities, and after scaling up in Ghana, will eventually contribute to establishing Universal Health Coverage by duplicating this PPP model in other countries, which is an ultimate goal of Sustainable Development Goal 3.

Koko Plus Foundation Donates To Kumasi Children’s Home

Koko Plus Foundation, manufacturers of popular food supplements, on Thursday donated boxes of its products to children at the Kumasi Children’s Home.

Speaking succinctly after presenting the items, Country Director for the Foundation, Yusuke Takahashi said the gesture was to help correct any malnutrition in the children at the home.

The Koko Plus supplement, he reiterated, contained vitamins and minerals that enhance good growth and vitality among children.

“Infants who are fed with Koko Plus alongside normal breast milk are very healthy and functional at all times since they possess the nutrients necessary for proper development’’, he disclosed.


Speaking to the media, Ashanti Regional Nutrition Director at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Madam Olivia Tempo applauded the gesture by Koko Plus Foundation.

She noted that the GHS was dealing with major cases of stunted growth in children across the Ashanti Region with some 420 cases recorded annually.

The Director, therefore, stressed that any effort or measure taken to halt such development, especially in infants and children was welcome.

‘’Even though we recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants in the country, any additional food must be in the shape of what Koko Plus offers since it has every nutrient or supplement that enhances proper human growth’’, Madam Tempo stated.



Expressing appreciation to the Koko Plus Foundation, Madam Mabel Boamah, Home Manager at Kumasi Children’s Home said the gesture was timely.

She noted that kids brought to the home are screened and those with any deformity or irregular growth are treated specially.

Currently, the Home Manager disclosed that 94 children are in her outfit with 45 being girls and the rest boys.

‘’With the availability of the Koko Plus food supplements at Home, each child will have a sachet to put into his or her food so as to enhance proper growth’’, Madam Boamah noted.