UN World Food Programme

WFP And Vodacom Teaming Up To Change Nutritional Practices In Tanzania

Women in Mtwara participating in the WFP and Vodacom cash pilot project receive their handsets. Copyright: WFP/Jen Kunz.

Vodacom Tanzania and WFP have embarked on a partnership that will use ‘mobile money’ to help food-insecure communities get better information about nutrition and health.

The pilot project, launched on 9 October in the village of Nanguruwe, Mtwara region, will promote positive nutrition practices using the Vodacom cash transfer platform M-Pesa.

Mtwara is among the regions in Tanzania with a high prevalence of chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. WFP Tanzania Country Director Richard Ragan said the partnership with Vodacom will help spread nutrition education to an estimated 2,200 targeted households throughout the region.

“Using mobile technology through the M-Pesa platform offers an alternative to the traditional delivery of food,” Ragan said. “With the support of 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) that 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 – particularly breastfeeding - during a child’s first 1,000 days of life.

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’ll help WFP transfer cash entitlements each month directly into the hands of beneficiaries,” he said. “This, combined with nutrition education, will encourage pregnant and nursing women as well as mothers with children under the age of two to buy healthy foods and diversify their diets.”

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.