MEDA in the News

A Tanzanian project to boost kids’ health has roots in Waterloo

on .

Source: "A Tanzanian project to boost kids' health has roots in Waterloo" by Charlotte Drewett in the Waterloo Region Record (In print - page 1 & page 2)

WATERLOO — A research project aimed at reducing mortality rates in young children in Tanzania by fortifying sunflower oil with vitamin A has local connections.

Mennonite Economic Development Associates, whose head office is in Waterloo, has teamed up with the University of Waterloo and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania on a research project that focuses on decreasing vitamin A deficiencies in various Tanzanian regions.

According to a 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, one third of children under five years old have a vitamin A deficiency, which has negative affects on their immune systems leading to complications that could result in death.

Young children whose immune systems are damaged by vitamin A deficiencies cannot fight off common diseases and "they're more susceptible to pneumonia and diarrhea" said Susan Horton, from the department of economics at the University of Waterloo and chair of global health economics with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

"The younger the kids are the higher the death rate is," Horton said, adding that in Tanzania, many children die in the first month of life.

The project will focus on providing small manufacturers in rural communities with the knowledge and technology to fortify unrefined sunflower oil with vitamin A.

"The smaller, local manufacturers are the ones that distribute to the most vulnerable people in the rural areas of Tanzania," said David Eagle, the senior project manager with Mennonite Economic Development Association.

"Large manufacturers tend to focus on larger markets, like the main cities. So any oil that gets fortified in the cities doesn't tend to get out to the rural areas that need it."

Over the next two and a half years the vitamin A-enriched sunflower oil will be distributed to residents in Manyara and Shinyanga, two of the regions in Tanzania with higher rates of vitamin A deficiencies.

The University of Waterloo will provide part of research for the project by analyzing data that comes from subsidized electronic vouchers that are going to be distributed throughout the regions via cellphones.

"The aim of course is to ultimately encourage wider distribution," Horton said.

"The great thing about this is it's a self sustaining thing because, although you initially give people a small subsidy to encourage them to try something new, in the long run you want to educate them that this is really healthy for their kids."

The electronic vouchers are multipurpose because they provide the Tanzanian population with a discounted incentive to purchase the vitamin A-enriched sunflower oils and the data can be used to track who is purchasing the oil.

"We can deliver an electronic voucher to somebody at a store in a rural area of Tanzania quite easily and it's also more secure and a traceable process, which is important for development projects as well," Eagle said.

The project is supported under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund with funding from Canada's International Development Research Centre and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

New Hamburg woman wins “Top 20 Under 35” award

on .

Tiffany Myer at MSCUSource: "New Hamburg woman wins "Top 20 Under 35" award" by Scott Miller Cressman in the New Hamburg Independent

Tiffany Myer of New Hamburg has been recognized with a "Top 20 Under 35" award for making a difference with Mennonite Savings and Credit Union.

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) made Myer a recipient of this brand-new award, created this year to honour young professionals who are changing the world. Myer and her fellow winners embody MEDA's values of faith, service and an entrepreneurial spirit, said the organization's communications co-ordinator, Jaclyn Stief.

After an open call for nominations, six Canadians and 14 Americans were selected for the award. Myer was nominated by a colleague at the credit union.

"I was very honoured," said Myer, who travelled to a MEDA conference in Winnipeg last month to receive her award.

Myer started with Mennonite Savings and Credit Union straight out of high school as a teller and is now a senior account manager at the New Hamburg branch, where she assists over 120 local farmers and business owners with loans and other financial needs.

That means she's not an entrepreneur herself, but still qualifies for that part of the award through the key support she can offer to local innovators.

Myer moved to the Wilmot credit union branch two and half years ago and now lives in New Hamburg too.

The award was a surprise, she said, though she does see her job as an opportunity to serve people in real ways.

"We are a faith-based organization with our heritage very steeped in Mennonite history," she said. "It's interesting how much money and finance and your daily life get intertwined."

MEDA's work focuses on solving poverty in developing countries through support for small- and medium-sized businesses.

"MEDA takes a business approach to international economic development," said Ethan Eshbach, the organization's co-ordinator of engagement initiatives, in a press release last week. "We hope this [award] inspires other young professionals who are eager to make a difference in their workplace, community or church."

Empowering Nigerian youth — MEDA and Cuso YouLead project launched in Nigeria

on .

YouLead project launchSource: "Empowering Nigerian youth — YouLead launched in Calabar, Nigeria" on Cuso website

On November 18, Cuso International Chief Executive Derek Evans, joined the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Perry Calderwood, and the Honourable Executive Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, to officially launch the YouLead project in Calabar, Nigeria. More than 150 people attended the event.

YouLead project is part of the Government of Canada's commitment to promoting sustainable economic growth in Nigeria to generate long-term, well-being for all Nigerians. The $15.25 million dollar program will last five years and is made possible by the generous support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

"The YouLead project will improve the prospects for employment and entrepreneurship of young women and men in Cross River State's agriculture, tourism, forestry and fisheries sectors," said Chief Executive Derek Evans during his remarks. "And do so by respecting the need to create environmentally sustainable jobs as we grow the opportunities in the small business sector. The project will also support state government institutions developing policies and programs for the natural resource sector."