Small-scale processors key to achieving Universal Salt Iodization
Senegal is the largest producer and trader of salt in West Africa. An estimated third of its annual yield, 150,000 metric tonnes, is produced by small-scale salt harvesters and processors who supply both local markets and neighbouring countries. While iodization laws have been in place in the country for years, adequately iodizing this salt has proven difficult. In 2006, potassium iodate was not available at 63% of the salt production sites and 71% of salt iodization machines were out of service.
To overcome these challenges, producers, organized in small cooperatives called groupements d’intérêt économique (GIEs), were provided with improved salt iodization machines, internal quality assurance and production tools, and appropriate training on their use. A revolving loan fund was established among the producers to assure a steady supply of potassium iodate and provide funds for the GIEs. These programmes are undertaken in partnership with the Senegalese government’s Cellule de lutte contre la Malnutrition, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the Micronutrient Initiative.
Production trends and informal discussions with producers have indicated increased commitment and compliance of producers and distributors with salt iodization regulations. GIEs are able to use the revolving fund to pay for regular repairs by local mechanics, ensuring the continued functioning of the iodization units, and to purchase adequate amount of iodate. In 2007–8, the GIEs were producing more than 83,000 metric tonnes of adequately iodized salt.