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ONE CITY AT A TIME: The Grass Roots Approach

Start Date: March 2001


The Grass Roots Approach is a tool for addressing micronutrient malnutrition in countries where traditional interventions had limited success. The International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Team of the CDC adopted this approach in 2001.

The concept was pioneered by Capital Consultants and the Program Against Micronutrient Malnutrition for the United States Agency for International Development in the early 1990s. It is designed to work in situations with challenges such as extreme poverty and disease, difficult topography, and understaffed governments. The grass roots approach differs from traditional interventions in that it enlists the support of local volunteers to launch a grass roots campaign to increase the supply of and demand for micronutrient-rich foods. In this approach, the CDC provides technical assistance to the local volunteers; much like a coach guiding a team.


Examples of Grass Roots successes include the following:

  • In the Philippines, a grass roots campaign in the City of Davao helped increase the percentage of iodized salt coverage from less than 5% to more than 75% in less than a year.1, 2 The campaign also helped persuade a local flour miller, cooking oilcompany and peanut butter producer to voluntarily fortify their products with vitamin A and iron. In 2008, the City of Davao launched yet another grass roots campaign to fortify the city's rice supply.
  • In Ukraine, grass roots campaigns in five cities helped increase iodized salt coverage from less than 5% to approximately 32%.3, 4 And in 2004 the supply of iodized salt more than doubled from the levels in 2003.5, 6 In addition, the grass roots campaigns in these five cities were responsible for a dramatic rise in the number of fortified foods available in the country.
  • In Haiti, the CDC is currently providing technical assistance to the Green Family Foundation and several other local partners for a grass roots campaign to produce and fortify an indigenous food product called Akamil in the remote Central Plateau region of Haiti.

Future Plans

In 2009, the CDC plans to continue its grass roots efforts in Haiti as well as in other problematic countries as called upon by the international community and local partners in these pilot countries. The CDC will also assess the impact of a grass roots approach and document the developmental process for forming local partnerships, including the factors contributing to the supply and demand creation, household coverage and prevalence of disease locally.


typical partners i a grass roots campaign include schoolds, hospitals, local governments, non-profit institutions, civic organizations, small businesses, large corporations, universities and private foundations.


  1. Asian Development Bank, Project Completion Report, "Philippines: Early Childhood Development Report," Project Number 27086; Loan Number: 1606/1607, June 2007.
  2. 2005 National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Manila, Philippines.
  3. UNICEF – Press Centre - UNICEF Exec. Director to visit Ukraine to focus on HIV/AIDS and Iodine Deficiency Disorders,, accessed 03/31/09.
  4. UNICEF: The State of the World's Children 2005: Childhood Under Threat, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF, 2004): 113.
  5. UNICEF – Ukraine – Background,, accessed 03/31/09.
  6. UNICEF:Executive Board: Revised country programme document: Ukraine, 31 October, 2005, E/ICEF/2005/P/L.19/

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