The task was to help local scientists try to persuade village women to place chunks of iron in their cooking pots to get more iron in their diet and lower the risk of anemia. Great in theory, but the women weren’t having it.
It was an enticing challenge in a country where iron deficiency is so rampant, 60 per cent of women face premature labour, hemorrhaging during childbirth and poor brain development among their babies.
A disease of poverty, iron deficiency affects 3.5 billion people in the world.
The people they worked with — “the poorest of the poor” — can’t afford red meat or pricey iron pills, and the women won’t switch to iron cooking pots because they find them heavy and costly. Yet a small chunk of iron could release life-saving iron into the water and food. But what shape would the women be willing to place in their cooking pots?
“We knew some random piece of ugly metal wouldn’t work . . . so we had to come up with an attractive idea,” he said. “It became a challenge in social marketing.”
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