Child nutrition

Lead Organization:

Institut de Recherches en Sciences Appliquees et Technologies

Community of Practice:

West Africa


Burkina Faso




In Burkina Faso, malnutrition is widespread. Among children under five years of age, 35% suffer from stunting, 10% from acute malnutrition, and 23% from wasting. Rural areas are the most affected by malnutrition with 90% of children under five being anemic and 37% suffering from stunting. The main causes are inadequate diets, infectious diseases (acute respiratory infections, diarrheas), and social and cultural practices. After the sixth month, an infant’s diet must be suitable in terms of quantity and quality, and the body must be able to absorb the nutrients. In Burkina Faso, cereals constitute the main complementary food; nearly 33% of children six to eight months old eat cereal porridge in addition to breastfeeding. Patterns of seasonal availabilities, together with dietary practices, beliefs and taboos, reduce the contribution of animal-based products, vegetables, and legumes to children’s diets. Cereal-based diets can provide insufficient nutrients and they are low in essential amino acids such as lysine and tryptophan. They contain compounds that hinder the gut’s absorption of proteins and micronutrients.

Strategies for mitigating malnutrition include promoting the consumption of nutrient-rich foods and reducing micronutrient-chelating factors. Legumes, by contrast, are rich in essential amino acids. Adding legume flours to sorghum- or fonio-based porridges and flours can dramatically improve the protein content. Technological processes such as fermentation, germination and roasting improved the bioavailability of micronutrients by reducing the chelating factors.

In February 2016, the government of Burkina Faso, within the framework of its national nutrition policy, committed to reduce chronic malnutrition by 40% among children under five by 2020. This project will contribute to improve the nutritional status of children at Lebda and surrounding villages by making available adequate knowledge to households for the production and usage of high protein- and essential micronutrient-rich flours to meet children’s nutritional needs. One basis of the approach will be a better understanding of the social and cultural context favoring or hindering behavior change in terms of nutritional habits. The project team intends improve the nutritional status of children (six months to 12 years old) at the pilot site by increasing families’ knowledge about nutritious products, as well as the products’ availability and accessibility. The project will also gain and share lessons about strategies for post-harvest value addition to facilitate such outcomes more widely. The use of composite flours (cereal-plus-legume or “C+L” flour) of good nutritional value for the preparation of family meals, supplementary food and child-preferred products, will help make it possible to meet children’s nutritional needs in the research site and beyond. Cowpea, soybean, groundnut, and Bambara nut will be the main legumes under study. The newly-developed C+L flours and products will be made available in markets of the surrounding villages. The need for adapted cereals and legumes for processing is expected to create market relationships between processors and farmers’ organizations. This is expected to lead to legume intensification, which aligns well with CCRP’s priorities.

Effective communication methods will be developed to increase the knowledge about the benefits and to enhance the consumption of C+L products. The communication approach will be adapted to the target group, e.g., children, mothers, heads of household, health professionals, and opinion leaders, recognizing and investigating option-by-context interaction for the efficiency of various communication tools. This project will be closely linked to the CCRP-funded Bambara nut, Seed systems, Processing, and Farmer Knowledge projects. It is expected to raise the awareness of these project teams and other community of practice (CoP) members about options to contribute to nutritional outcomes via agricultural research and local value chain development.

The expertise, effort and awareness that this project will bring to the CoP are important, given the alarming rates of malnutrition and hidden hunger in West Africa.

Grant Aims:

This project is expected to create and document knowledge regarding the following research questions:

  1. Which formulations of composite flours from local cereals (pearl millet and sorghum) and legumes (cowpea, groundnut, Bambara nut, soybean) of good nutritive qualities can be used for the preparation of family meals (tô and couscous), supplementary food (biscuit flour, infantile flour) and processed products (biscuits, cakes, doughnuts) accepted by children of different ages?
  2. Which treatments can be employed to optimize the bioavailability of proteins and essential micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin A) in meals, supplementary food and processed products prepared from composite flours?
  3. What are the social and cultural factors which could impede or promote an increased use of composite flours (cereal + legume) and a better acceptability of meals and products made from those flours?
  4. Which communication methods would be effective to increase the use of composite flours and their products for an improvement of the nutritional conditions of targeted populations?


Outputs and Outcomes:

Expected outputs include:

  • Six formulations of C+L flours with high protein and essential micronutrient (iron, zinc, vitamin A) contents are developed. Those formulations will include two formulations for supplementary food, two formulations for snacks, and two formulations for family meals. The technology incubation center of Lebda will produce infantile flours, biscuits, and fritters derived from C+L flours.
  • Supplementary food and C+L flour-based products are produced at the rural technology incubations center of Lebda and are made available to the populations of Lebda and surrounding villages.
  • Households use C+L flours in preparing their family meals.
  • Health professionals are trained and sensitized on the nutritional interest of C+L flour consumption by children of six months to 12 years old.
  • C+L flours and their products are used as supplementary food for young children at Lebda and surrounding villages.
  • A better understanding of the nutritional interest of using C+L flours in food formulations by community leaders, health centers, heads of households, and people in charge of meals is acquired at Lebda and surrounding villages.

The following outcomes are expected:

  • Increased use of C+L flours for the preparation of family meals in rural households
  • Increased use of C+L flours in the preparation of supplementary food (biscuit flour) intended for young children (six months to three years) in rural areas
  • Increased consumption of C+L flours based products (biscuits, cakes, fritters) sold on local markets
  • Improved use and acceptability of C+L flours and products through a better understanding of the social and cultural contexts related to their consumption. These changes should in turn result in better child nutrition in the project’s target area


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