How the ‘dosifier’ is transforming East African childhoods
Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2021 Laureate Felix Brooks-church is helping to eradicate malnutrition in Tanzania using an incredible new invention
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise, started almost 50 years ago, are a springboard of support for bright minds that want to change the world. They form part of the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative that fosters scientific exploration, inquiry, invention and outreach in the ongoing effort to make our planet perpetual.
Learn more about the Rolex Awards for Enterprise legacy and family as we invite you to meet the five Laureates for 2021 who are taking the fight to protect Earth and its inhabitants, from the coral reefs of the Maldives to the caves of Greenland and beyond.
Read on to learn about Felix Brooks-church and his ingenious “dosifier”.
There is an insidious killer stalking developing countries across the world. Many millions of people do not have sufficient access to healthy, nutrient-rich foods, and Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2021 Laureate Felix Brooks-church is changing this.
This graduate from Oberlin College, Ohio, spent 2012 in a small village called Sanku in Nepal developing an ingenious device called a dosifier that can add nutrients to flour and tackle the critical problem of malnutrition in places like Cambodia and Africa.
We invented a machine to literally add nutrients into food. There are more than 500 out there, feeding 200-million people every single dayFelix Brooks-church on the creation of Sanku's dosifier
Together with David Dodson, Brooks-church created Sanku, a non-profit enterprise based in Tanzania and named in honour of the Nepalese village where he proved that his device could work.
It was while working in Cambodia that he realised the first 1,000 days of development for a child were critical and that proper nutrition during this stage could make or break their future chances of physical and mental health.
“Better nutrition is the first critical domino. It means children grow up healthy and strong,” he says.
Malnutrition is a devastating affliction: it affects 2-billion people globally and is responsible for 15,000 deaths of children every day. Someone else might have given up — but not Brooks-church.
“The problem in East Africa is that they’re often just consuming maize flour as their only food and not eating enough complementary foods around it. That creates starvation from a lack of nutrients,” he says.
In Tanzania, he quickly realised that to enrich the basic, nutrient-poor flour that many Tanzanian people consumed on a daily basis, he needed to involve small-scale flour millers in a way that was easy and didn’t cost them any additional money.
The dosifier was his answer: a small, easily transportable device that can be used in mills to add vital life-giving nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid and iron into flour before it ends up in the pots of families across Tanzania.
The dosifier also transmits electronic data to Sanku, allowing Brooks-church and his team to monitor these mills on a daily basis.
But Brooks-church isn’t satisfied yet. He wants to use his Rolex Award for Enterprise to purchase more dosifiers and roll them out across the rest of East Africa as part of his goal to help women and children enjoy a better quality of life.
By harnessing the power of ingenuity and technology to save lives, this Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate is making the world a better place.
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