Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Spirulina Nutrition Project
About the Implementing organization
Name: The Pole Pole Foundation
Country: Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Year of establishment: 1992
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status
Spirulina is a micro-alga, which is the richest whole-food source nature has to offer. Spirulina contains unusually high amounts of protein, between 60 and 70 percent. In addition, it includes nearly all essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, and is easily digested and assimilated by the human body. Spirulina has proven results in battling malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases. Spirulina also has proven results in improving academic success among children and youth. Furthermore, Spirulina production requires very little natural resources and has minimal impact on the environment. It is perhaps the most sustainable food crop available.
The Spirulina project provides the pools and Spirulina seed needed to establish Spirulina production, and also provides training so that the project can be managed and harvested over the long term.
This is an innovative process because it sees the link between malnutrition and gorilla conservation, and has produced an innovative solution to solve it. The Spirulina grows well and can be harvested every few days, providing a regular supply and short harvesting period compared to conventional crop agriculture.
Forests / Wildlife
Type of Action
Sustainable Development Element
The project helps to protect the Grauer’s gorillas and other wildlife that inhabit Kahuzi-Biega National Park by reducing the demand for bush meat as a source of nutrition for local people. Spirulina provides a key source of nutrition that improves children’s health, reducing the need for parents to poach wildlife or buy bush meat in the market. Local people falsely believe that gorilla parts have medicinal properties, so the animals may be targeted when people are ill. By reducing illness from malnutrition, the project reduces demand for wildlife bush meat. It also improves the perception of the park among communities as they see value from protecting the gorillas.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Spirulina is one of the most sustainable, simple, cost-effective and highly nutritious food crops available. Thousands of children in the region in which POPOF operated die every year because of a lack of products such as therapeutic milk, failure of crops, lack of knowledge etc. Spirulina has proven effects in providing a sustainable solution to all these problems. The project has been successfully operating a Spirulina center within a pediatric hospital and is now establishing an additional center in the community. Within the next few years, the project will continue to expand and save thousands of lives through the use of Spirulina. The project also helps communities to develop income-generating initiatives.
The Spirulina model is extremely simple and replicable compared to many other agricultural and health initiatives. The unique model being implemented in eastern Congo is based on the empowerment of youth and local communities, who grow Spirulina for their own needs, and then form a "chain of nutrition"– one community teaches a second community how to grow Spirulina. The project is already being scaled up locally and is planned to expand to a national basis within several years.
The essence of the Spirulina project model is replicability. There are numerous agricultural initiatives throughout Africa, including even a few Spirulina farms. Many of these initiatives demand financial resources, expensive equipment and materials, expert guidance and supervision and more. The Spirulina project model was designed for small communities/ farmers/ households. Every family in Congo or throughout Africa can learn how to grow Spirulina on its own and thus provide a balanced diet to its children. The educational approach promotes a "chain of nutrition"– one community teaches a neighboring community, one school teaches another school and so on. Hence, the potential for replicability is infinite.
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