Cameroon – When Caleb Yengo Tata travelled to the remote Takamanda rainforest region in southwest Cameroon on a research trip with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), he was struck by the high levels of malnutrition and infant mortality that he found there. “We would visit a community one day, and the next day we would come back and another baby had died,” says the researcher at Cameroonian NGO and CIFOR partner Forests, Resources and People. “So I felt really drawn to do something about nutrition.”
People weren’t starving, says Tata. But the majority of women of reproductive age were suffering from some level of iron-deficiency anemia.
Anemia is a global public health issue, which affects women and children most severely, by increasing the risk of maternal mortality, low birth weight and infant mortality. It also affects children’s long-term health outcomes, so it can lead to intergenerational malnutrition and poverty.