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Reducing Anemia — Impact Brief

Introduction

The innovation being tested in this study was the distribution of fortified rice via the already existing Public Distribution System (PDS) that delivers free rice to all households in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for an increased intake of iron and micronutrients to tackle the endemic issue of anemia. Whereas other programs require people to remember to take iron pills, or to go out of their way to buy fortified food, this intervention involved no behaviour change from consumers.

Use of GIF Funds

GIF provided 540,000 USD funding to cover:

  • The work of research and implementation personnel
    • The two arms of the RCT:
    • Treatment arm of 110 villages that were to receive fortified rice
  • Control arm of 110 villages that were to receive normal (unfortified) rice
  • Data collection and analysis costs
  • Cost for a Project Implementing Agency (third-party agency), responsible for quality control and supervision
  • Policy dissemination costs
  • Equipment, supplies, travel, and other project costs

Objectives

This project aimed to address anemia and micro-nutrient deficiencies in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The intervention involved replacing conventional rice provided free of charge through the PDS with fortified rice made from rice flour enriched with iron, zinc, vitamin A, folic acid, and B vitamins blended with parboiled rice.

Impact to Date

Unfortunately this investment was closed in late 2020 following a number of challenges that prevented the distribution of the fortified rice from being successfully launched. These included a change in the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) (in 2018), a setback in testing nutrient levels (2019), and travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).