Laddoo - a popular Indian sweet. Image credit: Flickr
Laddoo – a popular Indian sweet. Image credit: Flickr

The Laddoo Project is a joint initiative of Deep Griha Society (Indian NGO) and Design Impact (American NGO) to abolish malnutrition among children living in the Tadiwala Road slums in Pune, by providing them special iron- and protein-rich laddoos/laddus – an Indian sweet. Close to 45,000 children die in Maharashtra (India) from malnutrition and Pune’s Tadiwala Road area is among the affected places. The kids are in the 6-month to 5-year age group, with the majority exposed to low-protein, high-carb diets.

The project was under pre-production for 16 months before its official launch in May, 2012. Within six months post launch, the participating kids exhibited tangible improvements in their mental and physical health – issues such as poor weight/height and anemia addressed. The kids were given laddoos three times a week continuously for six months. The nutrients in the laddoos are also essential for enhancing children’s cognitive growth and long-term educational and occupational success.

Laddoo Recipe and Making

The laddoo recipe is created keeping the growing children’s nutritional requirements in mind and their families’ economic statuses. The laddoo contains sesame and flax seeds, peanuts and is rich in potassium, iron and vitamins.

Jehangir Hospital’s pediatric nutrition research team collaborated with Design Impact to formulate and customize the laddoos. The recipe was zeroed in based on its low production costs, nutrient content and taste. Elephant Design, a Pune-based design company, offered insights to create cost-effective and visually appealing packaging. A Hyderabad-based non-profit firm, Naandi offered assistance with scaling laddoo production and its distribution.

Laddoo Cost and Collaboration with Unventured

Every Project Laddoo laddoo costs five U.S. cents or three Indian rupees to make. The project team says it requires ₹220,000 or $3,680 to cover the annual laddoo supply for 350 kids. The project team collaborated with a Bengaluru-based adventure company called Unventured to raise funds for the laddoo campaign.

Unventured organized a Manali-to-Leh cycle (325 miles) ride to raise awareness and money for the program. 11 cyclists participated in the ride, each earning ₹10 for every kilometer covered. Only one member had cycled the unusual path before; others received training for months from Unventured to survive the enroute weather, altitude sickness, hilly terrain, etc. The cyclist team distributed laddoos to local kids during their journey.

Other funding partners include Kaleidoscope (U.S.-based design company; $15,000) and Episcopal Diocese, Southern Ohio ($7,000). Besides, Deep Griha Society day care program kids’ parents are also offering direct payment support.

Future Plans

The project team next aims to go higher and offer laddoos to 10,000 kids across India. A three-year trial plan, this is likely to test the team’s ability to manufacture and distribute laddoos at the higher scale. The plan is likely to cost $750,000.