The Ladoo Project

Each year an estimated 45,000 children die from malnutrition in the State of Maharashtra, India. The Laddoo Project was developed as a home-grown solution designed to address this issue. A traditional “laddoo” is a small, ball-shaped snack, often eaten during festivals. The Ladoo Project has developed as a high-nutrition variant of this familiar snack that is inexpensive and provides a vital combination of protein and iron—essential nutrients for healthy, growing children. As the laddoo is a familiar food throughout India and easily made with local ingredients, it is well accepted by parents and children alike.

This healthy laddoo variant was developed by Design Impact’s (DI) professional design fellows, Anisha Shankar and Jaskeerat Bedi, who worked with the Deep Griha Society (DGS), an Indian non-profit in Pune, Maharashtra over the course of 16 months. Having witnessed high malnutrition rates among children in DGS’ day care centers, DI and DGS set out to develop an inexpensive solution appropriate to the local context.

Laddoo distribution began in May of 2012 at the DGS day care centers where 300 children between ages two and five years received a healthy laddoo three times a week. Baseline height and weight measurements were taken of 100 randomly selected children. After a six month period over 50% of the malnourished children had moved into the World Health Organization (WHO) height and weight based nutritional ‘safe zone.’ The project has been sustained by local funders and parents, and DGS continues to provide healthy laddoos to all children enrolled in their day care centers.

These peanut and sesame based laddoos are the result of significant research, design, prototyping, testing and development and come packed with the fats, protein and iron essential to the diet of young children. Each laddoo costs only three rupees (US$0.05) to manufacture and distribute. The healthy laddoo has proven successful as an effective nutritional supplement which can be easily manufactured and distributed within local communities, and has potential for addressing wide-spread malnutrition in India.