The initiative will be coordinated around two primary functions:
(1) Addressing acute micronutrient deficiencies by making food supplements available through global distribution managed by Unicef in conjunction with the Micronutrient Initiative (supported by the Government of Canada) and funded by industry, governments and other donors. Initial target countries in the first three years will be Nepal, Peru and one African country, still to be identified. This will be implemented through the use of therapeutic zinc supplements, zinc containing micronutrient powders and fortified staple foods. The micronutrient supplementation initiative has a goal of raising 5$ million over the next three years.
(2) Increasing the awareness and use of zinc-fortified fertilizers, beginning with targeted countries (including India, China, Thailand, and South Africa) through support of local capacity building and agricultural programs designed to promote domestic food security. This work will be led by the IZA and IFA with support from the zinc and fertilizers industries, governments and other donor agencies. The zinc-fortified fertilizer initiative will target .8 milllon over three years and will introduce 150,000 tons per year of zinc-fortified fertilzer in target countries. In doing so, it will attempt to demonstrate an increase of 10% in crop production in fortified agricultural soils.
These initiatives are designed to establish programs and best practices that will be replicated and expanded globally as the initiatives initial goals are achieved.
Zinc deficiency in humans has been identified as major global problem leading to the deaths of 450,000 children annually and contributing to 800,000 deaths in total. It is estimated that one in three people globally suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies with aproximately two billion people remaining at risk.
Over the last decade--with the support of the Micronutrient Initiative, the World health Organization, The International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group, and other research organizations--the importance of zinc in human health has become better understood. Several evidence-based solutions includng the provision of therapeutic zinc for acute diarrhoea, micronutrient powders to improve infant and young child health, and fortified staple foods are now available and need to be scaled up for maximal impact.
In parallel, research by leading fertilizer experts has identified the important function of zinc in promoting plant growth and health, leading to significant increases in crop production and nutritional quality. Through the increased use of zinc-containing fertilizers in the targeted countries where 50% of the agricultural soils are estimated to be zinc deficient, improvements in crop productivity and nutritional quality (i.e. zinc status for intake by humans) can be made.
Unicef, the IZA, MI, IFA and Teck have created a unique partnership to develop a multi-year global initiative, consistent with the Millennium Development Goals, with the goal of eliminating zinc deficiency, and improving global and food security in countries where it is needed most.
SEEKING: financial resources, media/marketing opportunities
Partnerships with government and non-government agencies needed to help raise funds and raise awareness of zinc deficiency in humans and crops and need to address this global, critical problem through the activities underway in this current commitment. In addition, if funding could be scaled up significantly, there is an opportunity to save over 300,000 children each year.
OFFERING: implementing partners, best practice information
Through the partnerships in this commitment, and the additional partnerships developed to help achieve this commitment, the Zinc and Nutrition Initiative can offer experience and expertise in implementing zinc supplementation and fertilizer programs in needed parts of the world.