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Flour fortification breakthrough in Uzbekistan

© UNICEF/SWZK00250/MIM Studio
A girl in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan receives US$2.8 million grant for Flour Fortification Project from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

Iron-deficiency anemia among women and children targeted

Tashkent, March 9, 2005 - The health of eight million people in Uzbekistan is expected to benefit from a new flour fortification project launched in Tashkent today.The number of mills fortifying wheat flour with vitamins and micronutrient will increase from 14 to 48 under the project, and double total production of fortified flour to 1.25 million tonnes per year by 2010. This is expected to reduce iron deficiency anemia among childbearing age women by 20 per cent.

Uzbekistan is the fourth country to obtain a grant for large-scale food fortification efforts from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The three-year US$2.8 million grant agreement was signed in November 2004 between the Government of Uzbekistan and the World Bank, which serves as GAIN’s trust agent for project implementation.

Iron deficiency anemia affects over 60 per cent of women of childbearing age and a third of children under five years in Uzbekistan, according to recent damage assessment reports by UNICEF and the Micronutrient Initiative.
This places mothers at risk of complications and death during childbirth, and increases the number of babies born underweight, children who have learning difficulties, and workers with reduced energies.

GAIN Chairman Mr Jay Naidoo said “food fortification is a proven, cost effective way to improve health. Fortification of flour with iron and other micronutrients has been successful in countries such as Venezuela, the USA, UK, Canada, Sweden and Chile.

“By working with state and private millers and with consumer groups Uzbekistan is able to invest in healthier mothers, smarter school children and more productive workers, and reduce health care expenses for the state.”
The project would also help Uzbekistan’s efforts to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of reduced poverty, improved maternal health and reduced child mortality.

The Ministry of Health, Joint Stock Company “Uzdonmahsulot” and other ministries and institutions will implement the project as part of a five year “National Flour Fortification Programme.” The project budget, including government and industry contribution, totals US$6 million, and aims to create the basis for long-term, sustainable flour fortification throughout the country.

The Programme builds upon an Asian Development Bank-funded pilot project - “Improving Nutrition of Poor Mothers and Children in Asian Countries in Transition” - which introduced fortification to 14 large, urban mills. The new project extends fortification efforts to mills using locally produced flour which is consumed by poorer households in Uzbekistan.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Health, as lead implementing agency, as well as by JSC “Uzdunmahsulot” and UNICEF. A Project Implementation Unit (PIU) has been established under the joint project implementation bureau of the Ministry of Health, to carry out daily management of project and to coordinate the different agencies involved. . The Bureau is also responsible for implementation of the World Bank’s Health II loan, and a parallel ADB Mother and Child healthcare project. The Health II loan also has a nutrition component, and the GAIN grant has been designed in a way to maximize complementarity between both. .

Project Manager Mr Ganijon Sarmanov said the project had four main components: the production and distribution of fortified flour, quality control, monitoring and impact assessment, and communications and marketing.

Note to editors:

More than 2 billion people throughout the world suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, debilitating minds, bodies, energies and the economic prospects of nations. The problem can be brought under control in a relatively short time and at relatively low cost.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition’s goal is to contribute, by 2007, to the improved nutritional status of at least 600 million people in up to 40 developing countries, primarily through fortification of commonly available and consumed local foods. GAIN provides resources to countries for the implementation of large-scale food fortification programs, led by ‘national fortification alliances’, which reach low-income, at-risk populations.

GAIN is a not-for-profit Swiss Foundation funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several bilateral donors. It is managed by a secretariat based in Geneva, with support from the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank acts as its Trustee.

For more information:

Anthony Burnett, Communication section, UNICEF Tashkent, tel (+ 998 71) 133 9512,

Tim Higham, Communication Director, The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, tel (+41 22) 749 1864,
mobile (+ 41 79) 776 5078,,

Dilnara Isamiddinova, Human Development Operations Officer/Economist Uzbekistan Country Office, tel (+ 998 71)1385950, fax (+ 998 71)1385951/52,





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