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Team Overview Makame Mahmud

Rahsin Jamil

Al-Jamee Jawad Khan

Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka

Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka

Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka

Abstract “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation” – John F. Kennedy. There are still people in the modern world who are fighting this war. These are people who reside in urban slums – places with substandard housing and squalor. Slums exist mostly in third world countries where governments and NGO‘s constantly deal with more pressing developmental issues, which is why often urban slums have lagged behind on the priority ladder. However, 200 million urban slum-dwellers across the globe, is too big of a number to ignore. Safe-affordable- nutritious food is far from their reach. So, is it possible to build a sustainable and scalable solution tailored to create greater food security in urban slums? We can start off with Dhaka, the most densely populated city in the world. A staggering 40% i (~6 million) of the population live in urban slums (Extreme Poverty Research Group, 2013). Nominal income and unhealthy living conditions pose a great challenge to secure a healthy diet. Combatting food insecurity in urban slums of Dhaka triggered the idea of VALUE+, an integrated food network that addresses everything from lowering food prices to reducing food wastage. It is a model that can be easily implemented in cities with similar phenomenon across the world. Areas of study: Food for All, Food for Sustainable Growth Keywords: Food security, Malnutrition, Awareness, Value chain, Smartphone.

The Human Side of Hunger, Repeated Daily Anne Reuben moved from a rural area in Kenya to Nairobi in search of a better life. She only has enough money, though, to live in the slums of Kibera with her three children and sick husband. She washes clothes to try to make ends meet. Most days she doesn’t. The high costs of rent and public transportation that she needs to get to work are making her income, which would seem high to her rural cousins, disappear. Food is a priority, but so is having a place to live. When she can’t get mush or wilted vegetables, her children ask, “Mama, today aren’t we cooking food?” or, “Mama, isn’t there even charcoal?” She does not reply.

“A hungry man cannot think of anything else other than food. Work, education, relationships - these all suffer as a consequence until that need is satisfied!” -Charles Kane, Director, One Laptop per Child Association Over 200 million people in urban slums are living without food security (Mission 2014: Feeding the World)ii. These slums are inside of or on the outskirts of major cities in poor and emerging nations. They are called favelas in Brazil, bustees in India & Bangladesh, barrios in Mexico, and shanty towns in Zambia. People‘s homes are made of waste materials and corrugated iron roofs. They have limited access to clean water, electricity and education. Migrants from rural areas find themselves without a network in the midst of a complicated system. Every day, these families struggle to find food and survive. Although life in these slums appears unattractive, close to a billion people live in here because they offer more opportunity to improve quality of life than rural areas. Unfortunately, those struggling with hunger are unable to take advantage of these opportunities. For the poor slum dweller, things can go from bad to worse very quickly. Not enough money can mean not enough good food, which creates health problems and makes people susceptible to disease. Being ill creates lost productivity, which prevents a person from making money. It is difficult to break this cycle of poverty. Food security is a daily struggle to acquire the right amount and type of affordable food that is easy to prepare and safe to eat. In addition to this daily grind, medical emergencies, loss of employment and price fluctuations can wipe out a family‘s savings.

Source: Sowing the slum;

Not in My Budget Nasreen Khatoun’s tiny, cramped and poorly built home is in the Bhagwanpura slum in India. Nasreen lost two of her children to malnutrition when they were just two years old. Her daughter was the first to pass away. “She died of acute malnutrition; she seemed to have dried up. She was just skin and bones,” says Nasreen. “Prices have doubled of everything in the last one year. Everything is expensive, children eat only one meal a day. There is no assistance. We don’t know what to feed our children.” Source: “Hunger in the Delhi slums,” BBC News UK, February 15, 2012

Urban slums have more or less the same segments of population in all the third world countries. Lack of basic education, poor family planning and insufficient income are the key indicators. Analysis of urban slums in countries like India, Pakistan showed the same indicators. But the interesting fact is, these slum population spend up to 80% (FAO) iii of their earnings on food, yet they stay malnourished! In order to pinpoint the key factors of food insecurity in urban slums and to come up with a sustainable model to combat these factors, we spent two weeks in urban slums of Dhaka city where we talked to the target population, observed the social and cultural mechanisms in play. The story was almost the same of every family. A story from our survey that represents the life of a typical slum-dweller: ―Fatema Begum, 24, mother of three resides in the slum of Kamrancgirchar, Dhaka. While talking with us she was holding her youngest and stirring the spinach she bought after quite a while, and also expressed it was her husband‘s favorite. Fatema expressed her worries in bringing up her children as she and her husband didn‘t manage a steady income. Quality food is their second priority because their income and prices force them to think of only satisfying hunger not nutritious food. As she had suffered from various Under-nutrition issues due to absence of proper diet in her childhood she fears the worst for her offspring as the livelihood might dictate the same for her three. She also complained of her lack of knowledge in choosing the right diet and inability to procure use of proper storage of food for her family. When we left her, she was cooking in the open with a lavatory right beside their cooking place and watched her eldest son bringing water from the nearby polluted canal.‖

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Solution After our rigorous research on and off the field, we have formed a framework which encompasses all the factors related to the food security of urban slums. Affordability is the prime concern for every human being‘s fundamental needs. Even though the slum-dwellers somewhat have means to afford basic food, they don‘t have access to healthy food due to availability. They don‘t have proper knowledge of what they should have in their meal so that the health of children, adolescent and adults is ensured. This is what we are calling ‗Triple A Framework of Food security’.

Value+ : It is an integrated food network which will source and sell food at a fair price, provide guidance about balanced diet according to their budget for slum-dwellers and provide healthy kitchen spaces. Doing just one won‘t change the current phenomenon. That is why we are proposing this total solution. Value+ network will have three programs running under its umbrella. These are Source Cheap, Nutri Shops (Sales Outlets) and Community Kitchen.


Aim: Sourcing food items at a lower cost. Underlying facts to consider:  On an average, there are at least 3 intermediaries between the point of production (farmers) and the retail market. This contributes heavily to the over inflated prices at the market which become difficult for slum dwellers to afford.  In a world that is progressing fast technologically, there is little or no usage of it in the current value chain. This provides little opportunity for the farmers to obtain exposure at the market, and makes the chain as a whole, inefficient.  Lack of proper transportation, leads to almost 20% of food being damaged on their way to the market. (The Daily Prothom Alo, 2010)iv To understand the problem better, we went to Mr. Rahim, a farmer on the outskirts of Dhaka. Mr. Rahim explained to us how his products are sold at inflated prices at different levels of intermediaries. Since they (the farmers) do not have direct access to markets, the produce is inevitably sold to the middle-men. While the middle man buys the produce at a cheaper price, the initial hit on the price takes place during transportation negotiations. The middle man claims that a lot of the produce gets damaged on their way to the market and thus the farmer has to pay back a percentage of what he paid as damage security(non- refundable). At the market, the middle-man then again inflates the prices by quite handsomely adding transportation cost per unit. The final price is set on yet another percentage markup. What happens is that the farmer is left with little or no profit while the consumers are buying at a hefty price. We at Value+ will engage and empower farmers to have better access to the market to ensure a more efficient and cost effective value chain. First of all, we will select producers/farmers from the areas specialized in producing each food items. Then we will bring them under contract with two incentives. We will provide 25% more than what the first collector gives them and fertilizers and high yielding seeds at a lower cost. A simple use of technology will facilitate the collection process. The farmers will inform Value+ representatives on designated days of the week, the quantity of fresh produce they can offer and the price. They will do this through text messages which cost only 0.70 paisa (less than 5 cents). Once the deal is confirmed, Value+ trucks will then go out to the fields and bring in the fresh produce to the sorting centers and then to the Nutri Shops. Feasibility: Our market research shows that we will be able to sell the produce at least 30% less than the market price after deducting the costs incurred in different levels of the value chain. Sound relationship with the farmers will be the key to success.

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NUTRI SHOP (PROVIDING ACCESSIBILITY AND AWARENESS): Aim: A food outlet serving individual needs and guiding better purchase decisions. Underlying factors to consider:  Slum dwellers lack the basic knowledge of a healthy diet and thus, are unable to make well informed decisions about what to buy.  They lack proper storage/refrigeration. On the other hand they cannot afford healthy food every day as it is too expensive. This is why a healthy diet is often unsustainable to them.  Since most work seasonal jobs, they are unable to get proper nutrition throughout the whole year Our solution for the underlying issues is specialized sales outlets in every slum called Value+ ‗Nutri Shops‘. These one-of-a kind shops would be conducted by selected women from the slums with an education background of at least middle school, who will be called Pushti Apa (Nutrition Advisor). Since it is primarily women who make food purchases, all our Nutri Shops would be conducted by these selected Pushti Apas, known faces to these women from their own community. The Pushti Apas will be trained about the basic food needs of men, women, children and infants and how different food sold at our outlets serve these needs. This will enable them to suggest a healthy meal according to the budget of individual families. There will be an option for the Pushti Apas to own a Nutri Shop of their own if they can perform exceedingly well. Nutri Shops will sell ‗1 portion‘ of perishable food like fish and meat. Since slums lack storage options, this will enable them to get exactly the amount they need to consume every day. Our stock will be maintained according to the needs of different slums and Nutri Shops will be equipped with cold storage. When we shared this idea with slum-dwellers they were ecstatic! These Nutri Shops will have point-of-sales and internet connection so that latest prices are readily available and better monitoring is possible. Internet connectivity will facilitate another program called ‗Food for Future‘. Because majority of slum dwellers work seasonal jobs, they are unable to eat well during the off-season period. The ‗Food for Future‘ program will assist them in ensuring sustainability through all seasons. This will enable them to open micro schemed debit accounts where they will be able to save money starting from as low as Tk 1000 (13 USD). Accounts would be equipped with their personal details, and during difficult times, they will be able to buy food from this account. Each subscriber will have a unique code and his/her account balance will be instantly updated online after each transaction in the ‗Value+ Nutri Shops. Pushti Apas will also be equipped with smartphones and our own self-titled app Value+. The pre-loaded app on their phones will enable them to instantly browse all possible combinations of food available at the Nutri Shop for any given budget. This would also come in handy to help people even when Pushti Apas are having a chat about proper nutrition outside the shops. Feasibility: A standard shop like this will take space for three slum houses which will be rented. As we are sourcing the food ourselves and cutting down cost significantly in the process, costs incurred with this shop will easily be compensated making it a financially viable option.

COMMUNITY KITCHEN (PROVIDING ACCESSIBILITY ): Aim: Providing a healthy cooking environment and waste disposal system. Gene Shultz, Ph.D., professor emeritus of technology and human affairs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Washington University, has observed directly that where there is smoke in Third World slums there is a high incidence of illness and even death among women and children, especially girls, confined to the household. Applying the same technology researchers use to analyze rates and composition of second-hand tobacco smoke in affluent countries, Shultz and his colleagues have tested dozens of poverty-stricken dwellings in northeastern Brazil and central Mexico and found that less than 20 percent of the 41 homes studied were safe to live and breathe in. (source:

Underlying facts to consider:  Slum dwellers cook in extremely unhygienic conditions, on temporarily built clay stoves.  There is often no room for ventilation as the smoke remains within the confines of their already congested one room make shift houses. 3|P a g e

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The food wastage is not disposed of properly, it regularly pollutes the vicinity they live in, including nearby lakes and other water sources. Research has shown that in slums, the lack of solid waste management is one of the biggest factors for environmental pollution and health risks. Solid waste is responsible for 49 vector borne diseases, such as dengue, in Bangladesh.

To promote a healthier and cleaner cooking environment, we bring in the concept of community kitchen. There will be roughly ten of these kitchens situated across one urban slum so everyone can have their turn across a large slum. The main concern of the community kitchen is to reduce the health hazards by providing ample room and ventilation to cook as well as reduce wastage by having its own disposable unit installed within. Clean cooking utensils will also be provided along with double stoves to speed up proceedings. Everyday‘s wastage will be collected from the disposal systems and disposed of properly to help instigate a cleaner and healthier environment. Recycle bins will be located at key points of the slums. Feasibility It is not difficult to find vacancies in slums as a lot of people tend to move around from one slum to another due to rising house rent or relocation of workplace. Each community kitchen will start out by renting two houses. This space will then be re-designed and made into one community kitchen (see picture in appendix). Each kitchen will have 4 stoves and aim to cater 25 families each. A flat rate will be charged for availing this service. A percentage of the proceeds from the Nutri Shop sales will also be used to facilitate the rent charges.

____________________________________________________________________ At this moment, one of mankind‘s oldest and most debilitating threats—hunger—is preventing one out of every seven people on Earth from enjoying the opportunity and prosperity so many of us take for granted (Food Security, IXL Centre)v. Access to nutritious, safe, and affordable food is necessary for healthy living and should be a human right, not a luxury, yet almost one billion people face hunger and food insecurity every day. The situation will only worsen as urban populations expand, climate change intensifies, the amount of viable farmland shrinks, and markets become increasingly unstable. Western security experts rightly fear failed states; in the future, they will have to worry about failed cities. Mega-cities, of 10 million or more, are on the rise across Asia, while cities like Dhaka, Jakarta, Lagos and Delhi will cross the 20 million population threshold by 2020. And the proportion of people living in urban slums will increase at an alarming rate, so will the rate of malnourished. Scenarios like this call for a financially-socially-environmentally sustainable project. It can bring about revolutionary change in the urban slums. Further collaborations with NGOs and development partners will ensure tremendous success. Partnering in a war against food insecurity can be a stepping stone towards the true freedom of life!

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Health status and its implications for the livelihoods of slum dwellers in Dhaka city, Tofail Md. Alamgir Azad, Ph.D., Project Director, Extreme Poverty Research Group (EPRG), January 2013. Mission 2014: Feeding the World, Urban Agriculture, iii iv “The Call for Food” – Aasha Mehreen Amin, 23rd February 2010, The Daily Prothom Alo v Food Security in Urban Slums by 2018, Hitendra Patel, Ronald Jonash, Kristen Anderson and Julius Bautista; IXL Centre, Hult International Business School. ii

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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

BCFN YES! 2013


Items to be sold Anemia tops the list of malnutrition diseases in Bangladesh among others. The slum dwellers have exposure to food but just that does no ensure proper diet. Also their proper guidance has also an impact on food choices. Likewise, the diet of our target needs to be tailored according to their extraneous physical activity, needed calorie intake and nutritional requirements. So our food array will consists of items that shall serve in the interest of tackling the malnutrition and provide proper diet according to their physical lifestyle. Particular

Food item


Green leafy vegetable, beef liver, beef, lentils, potato

Vitamin A Vitamin C

Spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, small fish, papaya Potato, papaya, pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage

Vitamin B

Broccoli, whole grains (brown rice), beef, eggs, fish, milk


Chicken, fish, eggs, milk

Carbohydrates Calcium

Rice (brown & white), potato, banana Milk


Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Contrast between Current and Value+ value chain


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Smartphone App for Pushti Apa (Nutrition Advisor)

By using this app, she will be able to advise people about what they should buy even when she is not at the store. Everyone of them will have one cheap smartphone with this app pre-installed. This Value+ app will also provide other features like – prices of the day, order of next day’s food inventory and other needs of the Nutri Shop!


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Nutri Shop Outlook (Proposed)

It was an image of a grocery shop in urban Dhaka. We changed the outlook of it to make it more like our proposed Nutri Shop. The shop will be established in such a place that shall give it maximum exposure and easy access to the particular slum dwellers.

Nutri Shop


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Current scenario of cooking environment in urban slums worldwide


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Community Kitchen Outlook (Proposed) It was a picture of two slum houses and the women standing in front of those. As we proposed that the community kitchen shall be constituted of two houses that will accommodate a double-burner in each of the four sections, we substituted the houses by our Kitchen model. The image shows how the kitchen will be built allowing proper cooking environment, ventilation, and access to the nearby families.


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

Waste Disposal Bin (Proposed) The Waste disposal facility in the image is proposed to be in near touch-points of the slum-dwellers. The organic waste will be collected in a strict schedule allowing no scope for contamination or any health hazards due to improper disposal of waste.


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Value+ : Integrated Food Network

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Call for Collaboration Posters Collaboration with development partners such as NGOs, Donor agencies and Government will ensure tremendous success in implementing this project. These are some examples of posters and banners we have designed that can motivate them!


Value+ : Integrated Food Network


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