Fighting Hunger With Peanuts, Potassium & Plumpy’Sup

World Food Program USA
October 29, 2019
Photo: Unsplash/Corleto

In northeast Nigeria, violence caused by the Boko Haram insurgency has created one of the worst humanitarian disasters on the planet. Right now, more than 7.7 million Nigerians — more than the population of Phoenix — are facing extreme poverty and hunger. WFP is responding to the crisis on the ground and in the air, bringing partners together to feed families in need.

The humble peanut is one of the most important players.

Photo: WFP/AMADOU BARAZE

Women receive rations of Plumpy’Sup for their children, as part of WFP’s nutrition programme at El-Miskin IDP Camp in Maiduguri.

Thanks to WFP’s Rapid Response teams, the agency can quickly transport food supplies to people in hard-to-reach areas in Borno and Yobe states, many of whom are young children who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition. Just over 1 million children in Nigeria are severely undernourished and require immediate food assistance.

That’s where WFP’s ready-to-use therapeutic foods like Plumpy’Sup come in. They are specially designed to prevent and treat chronic malnutrition among children aged six months to five years old.

This fortified peanut-based paste was developed 20 years ago by a French scientist who led the way in revolutionizing malnutrition treatment. With Plumpy’Sup, families who don’t have access to water or electricity can feed their children this pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food that doesn’t require water or cooking.

Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

WFP distributes Plumpy’Sup in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai.

The mix of peanut paste, vegetable fat, dry skimmed milk, sugar and whey is designed to be eaten directly from the packet as a crucial supplement to a child’s diet and breastfeeding. And, because it’s oil-based and low in moisture, Plump’Sup is highly resistant to bacterial contamination, giving it a long shelf life. The product’s sweetness also makes it a hit with young children.

Before this product existed, parents in remote areas would have trek to the nearest health clinic — which could mean hours or even days of walking on foot — so their malnourished children could receive intravenous fluids. Often, by the time these parents would arrive, it would be too late.

During humanitarian emergencies like the ongoing conflict in northeast Nigeria, Plumpy products represent a powerful tool to fight child malnutrition on the front lines of hunger.

Learn more about the different types of food WFP delivers.