COP22 is taking place from 7 to 18 November in Marrakech. An occasion for Danone to highlight its commitment in Africa through the stand held by its local subsidiary, La Centrale Danone. In 2015, signaling the continent’s importance for the company, the Africa division was created: a multi-business line hub designed to speed up its development in this strategic region and further its mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible. In this multi-faceted continent, now undergoing profound changes, Danone’s aim is to seek out and invent new models for entrepreneurship, sustainable growth and shared development. A commitment that takes many forms, according to the challenges facing different regions of Africa. We look at four symbolic issues and initiatives.
Proposing nutritional solutions specifically geared to Africa’s multiple challenges
This is the size of Africa’s population in 2100, compared with 1.2 billion in 2015, according to forecasts published by INED in September 2015. By then, thanks to its extremely high birth rate, Africa will be younger than ever (in 2012 already, 70% of the population of sub-Saharan African countries were under 30). To meet the food requirements of these constantly-growing numbers, it is vital to understand and adapt to the specific features and issues of each locality. This is why Danone has launched the NutriPlanet, studies, where the aim is to obtain an overall, coherent picture of food requirements at local level. Already carried out in 12 countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa), the studies have enabled the development of practical, appropriate solutions. For example, the identification of vitamin and iron deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa triggered the creation of the iron-enriched Phosphatine range, where a single dose covers 70% of children’s daily requirements. This range has been launched in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
Cultivating a foothold in Africa by involving local communities
In Egypt, 60% of the population live in rural areas where unemployment can be as high as 60%. Danone Egypt and the NGO Ashoka Arab World have created the OMDA Sahteen project, with help from the Danone Ecosystem Fund. This creates jobs and thus access to microcredit for entrepreneurs in rural and suburban areas who want to become micro-distributors of Danone products. A health and nutrition section also trains women so that they can educate their families on these aspects. This awareness-raising directly involves over 65,000 people already.
Bagoré Bathily and La Laiterie du Berger: working to promote a competitive and sustainable dairy sector
More than 90% of the milk consumed in Senegal is imported in powder form. In 2006, to develop the use of local supplies by providing outlets and stable incomes for Fula farmers, the veterinary company Bagoré Bathily founded La Laiterie du Berger, which makes dairy products using milk collected from 800 local farmers. This is a family firm supported by danone.communities and the Danone Ecosystem Fund. 1,200 to 6,000 litres of milk are collected each day, depending on the season. La Laiterie du Berger is thus helping to limit the exodus towards the city by enhancing rural communities’ standard of living. The Ecosystem Fund is currently supporting five projects in Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, which are having a positive impact on more than 6,400 small-scale farmers, helping them to move over to sustainable, environmentally-friendly agriculture.
Finding the right balance between agricultural production, social development and natural resources
Danone’s activity depends on raw materials produced mainly by small farmers in rural communities. These communities are the first to feel the effects of climate change. So Danone initiated the Livelihoods Investment Fund in order to fight poverty, environmental deterioration and climate change all at once. One example of the project is found in Burkina Faso, where the Livelihoods Fund, with support from the AFD (French development agency) and an NGO, Tiipaalga, teaches sustainable farming practices to 30,000 families to help them cope with the effects of climate change. These farming methods, combined with the promotion of improved cookstoves, which cut wood consumption by more than 50%, help to restore fertility to the soil and thus combat the desertification of this sub-Saharan region.
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