Project Laser Beam
Project Laser Beam (PLB) is a five-year, multi-million dollar public-private partnership that seeks to eradicate child malnutrition. It brings together the expertise of UN agencies with that of Fortune 500 companies, and others in the private sector, to work with local governments and companies to find new solutions to old problems.
PLB was unveiled in September 2009 by PLB founding partners WFP, Unilever, Mondelez International Foundation (formerly Kraft Foods Foundation), DSM and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) by US President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
The pilot projects will focus initially on Bangladesh and Indonesia. These are countries where there are unacceptably high rates of child malnutrition, but also a demonstrated commitment by the government to tackle the problem. PLB partners will be able to assist as these are also countries where they have a presence and the ability to leverage existing resources and knowledge.
The projects will centre around three main pillars: food, hygiene and behavioural change. Specifically, work will include: fortification of food with micronutrients, products to nutritionally supplement a child’s diet, ready-to-use foods requiring no water or cooking, sanitation and hand-washing, access to clean water, deworming, immunization, therapeutic feeding for the severely malnourished, education on the benefits of breastfeeding, nutrition education and others as needed.
Replicate the model
PLB will employ the many nutritional solutions already available in the marketplace, ensuring they are accessible to those in need. When gaps in products and services are found, PLB will call on an ever-growing number of partners to step into the breach and develop new ones for the fight against child hunger in other countries. Ultimately, a model will evolve that can be replicated. At the end of the five-year pilot phase, PLB’s model will be replicated in other countries where malnutrition is prevalent, paving the way for generations of children to enjoy the benefits of this concerted, co-ordinated action.
The situation compels us to act now. In the wake of the global economic crisis, and increasing climate-related emergencies, families with malnourished children are slipping deeper into the poverty and hunger trap every day — many for the first time.