I have officially been in Dar es Salaam as MASAVA’s newest intern for five weeks. Full disclosure: this is my first time to Tanzania, and indeed Africa. As is the case with any new adventure, being here is unbelievably exciting. I have battled the cacophonous streets markets in city center, sweated under the intense heat playing soccer, and traveled to an island closeby for some fresh fish and chips. Amidst all this fun, I’ve had the chance to learn about and take part in a very interesting project.
The purpose of the MASAVA Project is to tackle Vitamin A deficiency in rural Tanzania. 34% of Tanzanian children aged 6 – 59 months and 37% of women aged 15 - 49 are Vitamin A deficient due to inadequate diets. Consequently, they suffer from night blindness, weak immunity, and a host of other psychological and physical symptoms.
Leveraging the private sector, MASAVA is testing whether virgin sunflower oil can be fortified locally with Vitamin A by small and medium scale enterprises and commercially distributed to high-deficiency areas through registered retail networks in the northern Tanzanian regions of Manyara and Shinyanga. To stimulate demand, MEDA is testing the viability of mobile technology and behavioral change community activities. In short: MASAVA is pioneering a local solution to a local problem using market forces and in so doing, providing a replicable model to tackle similar public health challenges.
Now, for some pictures of my life..because, well, who doesn’t like pictures?!