The Milk Producer - June 2009 - (Page 50)

THEBACKFORTY By Sharon Laidlaw One yogurt at a time I n 2003, a group of staff in the University of Western Ontario’s (UWO’s) division of housing and ancillary services decided to initiate an international response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. Staff member and program organizer Bob Gough saw an opportunity to bring students and faculty together in a community outreach initiative. He helped form a steering committee to develop a sustainable community development project, known as Western Heads East (WHE). The program is based on creating and distributing a probiotic yogurt to improve the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. The Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization, a grassroots community project in Mwanza, Tanzania, the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMRI), a public institution of the Tanzania Ministry of Health, and St. Augustine’s University in Mwanza, are the local partners supporting the project. The yogurt is made daily by 10 women, known as “the yogurt mamas,” who form the Tukwamuane Women’s Group, which means women working out of poverty. Earlier this year, the group became a licensed non-governmental organization. The women make the yogurt in a community kitchen they built in Mabatini, an area just outside of Mwanza, from cows’ milk bought from a local farm. The yogurt mamas make 60 litres daily and distribute 250-mL servings for free to 125 people with HIV/AIDS. Another 100 people, including a nearby orphanage, buy the remaining yogurt. UWO interns live in Mwanza yearround on a three- to five-month seasonal rotation to help manage the program and make connections in 50 | June 2009 | MilkPRODUCER the community. To date, 22 interns have been to Mwanza, with three currently in the country helping the yogurt mamas with quality control and business planning. The yogurt’s formulation is based on research by professor Gregor Reid, chair of human microbiology and probiotics at UWO and assistant director of the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, and professor Sharateh Hekmat from Brescia University College in the nutrition division. Their goal was to create a practical, food-based product that would enhance people’s health and immune systems in communities where malnutrition thrives and there’s little or no access to HIV prevention and treatment. Reid’s research has shown people with AIDS who regularly eat probiotic yogurt have diarrhea less often and for a shorter duration. They also have more energy. The project has done wonders for the people of Mwanza, where the women have become leaders in the community and the kitchen has become a hub for community support, Gough says. The region has a population of three million people. About 4.2 per cent has HIV/AIDS, according to 2000 statistics from, an online resource that documents the latest news and information about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide. UWO’s innovative project is one of four Canadian universities to win the 2006 Award of Excellence in Internationalization from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. It also won the 2006 Western Award of Excellence. “The program is so successful that the Tukwamuane Women’s Group is teaching women in other Mwanza neighbourhoods to make the probiotic yogurt,” he says. A pilot project was also started in Kenya with World Bank funding, and there are plans to expand to Rwanda and Uganda as resources become available. “The Tanzanian government is looking to break new ground by setting targets to increase milk consumption in the country, one of the lowest in the continent. This fits with our goal of expanding the program.” For more information, please visit A group of women in Mwanza, Tanzania mix a probiotic yogurt to distribute to people with HIV/AIDS.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Milk Producer - June 2009

The Milk Producer - June 2009
Editor's Notes
DFO Chair's Message
Dairy Update
National Policy
Industry Roundup
DFC Promotion
Processor Spotlight
Empowering an Industry
Applied Science
Rumi Nations
New 'N' Noted
Back Forty

The Milk Producer - June 2009