The importance of these micro-algae as a food source for generations to come was highlighted at the United Nations World Food Conference in 1974, were they were described as “the best food for the future”. It is the IIMSAM, or the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina against Malnutrition, which has taken the lead in making this nutritious organism available for the millions of people who face starvation.
IIMSAM is an institution that aims to use these micro-algae to combat starvation, malnutrition and food shortages in developing and the most underdeveloped countries. It also has a focus on dealing with the illnesses and complications arising from malnutrition. In addition, IIMSAM caters especially for the needs of undernourished disabled children and those that are HIV positive.
Expansion of IIMSAM’s East & Central Africa Programme
A drive to expand the IIMSAM’s East & Central Africa Programme against malnutrition has come not a moment too soon. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki recently declared a state of emergency in that country because over 10 million people are undernourished.
Malnutrition rates in Kenya are staggering. According to a survey undertaken by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in some regions 22% of children under the age of 5 years were malnourished. This is significantly higher than the 15% which the World Health Organization uses as the indicator for a national emergency. Furthermore, the IRC reported that in the town of Kakuma, Kenya, close to 40% of the people relied on only one meal a day.
It is fitting that relatives of the President of the United States, Barack Obama (whose father was Kenyan) are to be involved in the expansion of the IIMSAM’s Programme. Mama Sarah Obama and Said Obama (Obama’s grandmother and uncle respectively) are Goodwill Ambassadors of the IIMSAM and, as such, support and assist with the efforts of the Institution.
Not only does the Programme work towards alleviating malnutrition and starvation, but it also aims to uplift the community. IIMSAM is instrumental in establishing facilities for cultivating these micro-algae in the regions where it is being distributed. These operations provide jobs for the local inhabitants, thereby decreasing the chronic unemployment figures. Work means income and all of the other benefits of having industry in the area. What is most important is that the residents become involved in the production of their own food; thus promoting a stable food supply and the community becomes self-sufficient.