ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — The National Fortification Alliance of Pakistan (NFA) is partnering with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the government of Australia to launch a pilot project to fight malnutrition by fortifying wheat flour in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

As part of the partnership, the WFP will provide technical support and the government of Australia will provide funding for the project, which is focused on providing support to chakkis (small-scale grinders) to mill flour that is rich in micronutrients.

“Given the extent of the consumption of wheat from chakkis, this project will provide a firm basis to reach nutritionally vulnerable populations and provide them with essential nutrients, which is another step WFP is taking to curb malnutrition in Pakistan,” said Finbarr Curran, WFP Country Representative.

According to the WFP, almost half of Pakistan’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies that can lead to poor child growth, anemia and many other health issues. Reducing these deficiencies is a high priority for the government of Pakistan, the WFP noted.

The agency noted that Pakistan already has taken steps to fortify wheat flour produced by large-scale mills, and over the next five years the goal is fortify wheat flour produced at all the country’s industrial wheat flour mills.

To achieve the goal, though, the WFP said it must support the output of chakkis. The agency said chakkis produce wheat flour for nearly 70% of the population, and most of these families are the poorest of the poor. This project targets the most vulnerable populations and fulfills the urgent need to assimilate chakkis within a broader national fortification effort.

The pilot project is expected to provide the government with evidence about the potential for the chakki fortification program to prevent micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, particularly among the poorest populations.