Having been to a variety of different conferences around food security and nutrition, the one thing that was most enjoyable and exciting for the FrieslandCampina team wasn’t the fact that we got to present our study, but the heartening fact that every person we had met through the two-day AIDF Summit had a genuine interest in raising the nutritional status of the region and have either already taken firm actions to address these issues or are planning to in the near future.
While united in the mind set of achieving a better tomorrow through firmly establishing food security in the region, the diversity of the attendees also represented the wide spectrum of agendas. Industry players, non-profit organisations and government officials were all in attendance.
Food and nutrition security is a complex issue. How can we tackle the nutrition paradox?
The answer is in this – Public–Private Partnerships
The strategy seeks to bring stakeholders together to improve nutrition standards by focusing on collective efforts by governments, NGOs, and food manufacturing companies. The idea of harnessing public-private partnerships (PPP) is at its core.
In our presentation about the Southeast Asia Nutritional Survey (SEANUTS), we presented the prevalent trends and gaps in the nutritional statuses of children in Southeast Asia between 6 months to 12 years of age.
After surveying more than 16,000 children across the region SEANUTS results highlighted a few key trends:
1) There was a general lack of physical activity among children
2) Sub-optimal dietary intakes in terms of nutrients
3) An across the board lack of micro-nutrients, including a severe lack of Vitamin D across demographics
4) The Double Burden of malnutrition; most countries were facing issues with both under and over nutrition
FrieslandCampina believes that PPPs are the strongest, most cost efficient and effective vehicles to tackle evolving nutrition issues. We shall use SEANUTS as a case in point.
The Beginning of SEANUTS
When the SEANUTS project first began, we wanted to design and conduct and in-depth survey among the nutritional statuses of children that could genuinely inform the actions of governments, the industry and communities to take the correct steps towards making a long-term sustainable difference.
With this goal in mind, we were clear that conducting in-depth surveys on the nutritional status of more than 16,000 children was not something that FrieslandCampina could meaningfully do
alone. As a private organization, not only did we require the support from local organisations but also their expertise, skills and networks, to make this project a success.
And we were right.
Partnering with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Malaysia, PERSAGI (Persautuan Ahli Gizi Indonesia) in Indonesia, Mahidol University (MAHIDOL) in Thailand and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Vietnam not only allowed us to tap on some of the best, brightest and most committed organizations and individuals across the region, but also to work synergistically with them to achieve a seemingly impossible goal when we had first started.
We’ve now finished conducting the survey, shared the results to a variety of different stakeholders all with the help of our partners and are also along our way to distilling more insights and implementing change based on the results of the survey.
Throughout this entire process, our goals were united, despite our diversity in organisations and backgrounds, and a true public-private partnership was formed.
Such a ‘true’ partnership can not only be measured by the resources that had been spent on both sides, but more importantly the willingness, the dedication and the support that the FrieslandCampina teams and our local partners have put in throughout the entire process.
SEANUTS Today – Drink Move Be Strong
Two years after we’ve launched the results of SEANUTS, we are still working closely with different partners; NGOs, governments and academics.
An example of this is the Drink, Move Be Strong (DMBS) campaign. Founded in the fundamental belief that a child’s growth and development is heavily influenced by both diet, nutrition and daily exercise, DMBS is a region-wide initiative inspired by the results of SEANUTS to encourage children to cultivate early habits to consume the right amount of nutrition and exercise, so as lay the foundations for a limitless future ahead of them.
In this initiative, FrieslandCampina partnered Jr. NBA to co-develop a program across five different countries in the region (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand), so as to engage and encourage children to lead active and healthy lifestyles through nutrition and sports.
Not only did the partnership with Jr.NBA allow the initiative to attract a significant amount of youths, we were also able to combine our nutritional knowledge with NBA’s knowledge of sports to bring to children across the region a program that could holistically equip them with the skills, knowledge around nutrition and sports to make a long-term sustainable impact.
Beyond the Jr.NBA program, the successes of school milk programs that were run in conjunction / or as part of DMBS also hinged on the partners we had, in this instance, the support that we had from government groups such as the ministries of health and educations in each country.
With the support of these organisations, we were able to further our reach and provide access to nutritional education and nutrition to children we would previously not have been able to help.
For a better tomorrow
Whether it is education, access or innovation to help secure the future of tomorrow, it is imperative that organisations, groups, associations understand the power of partnerships in our journey to make long term and sustainable impact to the communities around us. And the key to unlocking the full potential of these partnerships are for organizations to not focus on their differences but to focus on their similarities and their common goals – a common sentiment that we have seen at the recent AIDF conference and are truly heartened by.
For further information: www.frieslandcampina.com