wfp and vodacom Use mobile technology to change nutrition practices in tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM Vodacom Tanzania and UN World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a partnership that will encourage vulnerable, food insecure communities in the Mtwara region of Tanzania to take advantage of nutrition and health education through a mobile money platform.

The pilot project, which will be launched on Tuesday 9 October in Nanguruwe Ward, Mtwara, will promote positive nutrition practices through the cash transfer platform Vodacom M-Pesa. Mtwara is among the regions in Tanzania with a high prevalence of chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency.

WFP Country Director Richard Ragan said the partnership with Vodacom will help spread nutrition education to an estimated 2,200 targeted households throughout the region by acting as an incentive for women to take part in learning sessions.  

“Using mobile technology through the M-Pesa platform offers an alternative to the traditional delivery of food,” Ragan said. “With the support of the Vodacom Tanzania, WFP is reinforcing national efforts to tackle undernutrition in Tanzania.”

Participating women will receive a monthly M-Pesa transfer of Tshs 16,000 (about US $10), which will enable them to purchase healthier, more nutritious food. This allocation is based on attendance at a health clinic for education sessions focusing on the importance of nutrition during a child’s “First Thousand Days” of life, including breastfeeding.

Speaking at the launch, Head of Vodacom Foundation Yessaya Mwakifulefule said that Vodacom Tanzania will continue to support Vodacom’s Mobile for Good projects, which enrich the lives of vulnerable groups in Tanzania by focusing on key areas in health and social welfare.

“Using Vodacom’s M-Pesa platform, we will help WFP transfer cash entitlements each month directly into the hands of beneficiaries. This, combined with nutrition education, will encourage pregnant and nursing women and mothers with children under the age of 2 to purchase healthy foods and diversify their diets,” said Mwakifulefule.

“Vodacom Tanzania is delighted to be part of this great project; it is the company’s purpose to see its mobile technology transform people’s lives in each sector in the country,” he added. 

The project will be piloted in 27 villages of the wards of Nanguruwe, Naumbu, Madimba and Nitekela, selected in consultation with the Mtwara District Council. This is the first cash transfer project that WFP is piloting in Tanzania, and it will test the viability of cash transfers linked to community-based mother and child health and nutrition activities.