Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition

Intergovernmental Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council Under ECOSOC Resolution 2003/212 Dated 5th of March 2003.
Designated by the United Nations Economic & Social Council Under Rule 79 of the Council’s Rules and Procedures.

IN SUPPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM FOR A BETTER WORLD AND THE UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 2015 - 2030

spirulina cultivation tanks

Source: IIMSAM-Ambassador H.E. GEORGE HARA.
DIC-Japan-Spirulina Cultivation Centre Largest in the World

Efficacy Study

Although the effectiveness of Spirulina to improve nutrition has been verified in other countries, because there was no experiment in Zambia, AFF decided to test the efficacy to Zambian children. Upon the start of the efficacy test, AFF received permissions from Ministry of Health (MOH) of Zambia, and Bio-Medical Research Ethics Committee. Body measurements were conducted at health centers operated by MOH with the help of health volunteers.

MOH health centers in Zambia
Research Outline
Period 6 months (June to November 2012 • Extended to 9 months)
Target Population 60 children (18 – 36 months) With spirulina: 30 ppl, No spirulina: 30 ppl
Implementing Agency Alliance Forum Foundation, Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM)
Location Kanakantapa Village, Chongwe District, Lusaka
Methodology Provide 10g of spirulina daily to target group children and measure the body change monthly. (weight, height, and circumference of the upper arm)
Before the launch of the efficacy test, we measured the weights and heights of children in the project site. As the following graphs show, while there were only a few children who has low-weight, there were many who are low-height. (Low-weight and low-height children are represented by dots plotted below the bottom line).
graphs of efficacy test results
Research on dietary habits in the project area revealed that, throughout a year, 15-40% of children do not take food rich in protein at all. This may be contributed to the serious growth deficiency seen among the children.
graph of test results
Though we could not observe a statistically significant difference in weight and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), there was a statistically significant effect of Spirulina on height. Children who were given Spirulina for 9 months showed a 2-3cm improvement in height. This result shows that there was an impact not only to the growth, but also to organs.

We also observed a positive impact to Malaria. While 39.3% of children who did not receive Spirulina were infected by Malaria, only 14.3% of children who received Spirulina were infected. This shows the possibility of Spirulina contributing to strengthen their immunity.

Chart of effects of spirulina on malaria and other diseases

table of results showing effects of spirulina on malaria vs control group

At the efficacy test, we also received non-quantitative results as below.
Change in appetite
There was a change in my child’s appetite.
My child appetite increased.
My child asks me to cook porridge even after the completion of the project.
Change in dietary habit
My child hated vegetables before the project, but he likes them now.
Because I was asked to give porridge at certain hours, my child began to ask me to cook porridge when the time comes.
My child stopped being picky on food, and now eats anything.
Change in physical condition
I could see a difference in my child’s health.
My child’s weight increased since eating spirulina, and became more active.
My child’s skin condition improved. I would like the project to continue.
Since there were many mothers who requested for the distribution of Spirulina even after the completion of the efficacy test, AFF decided to continue giving Spirulina to participants.
Photo of hungry child helped by IIMSAM "THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD SO HUNGRY THAT GOD CANNOT APPEAR TO THEM EXCEPT IN THE FORM OF BREAD."

-Mahatma Gandhi