Innovation to fight hunger: The case of Plumpy'nut
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A simple invention can at times prove extremely useful. This is the case with Plumpy’nut, a variety of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), conceived in 1999, that is shaping a new regime for emergency interventions to alleviate child malnutrition. This paper applies concepts from the innovation systems literature into the analysis of Plumpy’nut with the aim of identifying the forces driving its successful diffusion as an innovation. Special attention is paid to three features that define the new technological regime: 1) shifting from inpatient to outpatient treatment, 2) building networks through licences, franchises and partnerships, and 3) exploring further varieties of application. We combine the theoretical discussion with insights from field research in Ethiopia, including personal interviews with relevant parties and direct observation of how Plumpy’nut works in practice. The ultimate objectives of this technology assessment exercise are to better understand the innovation journey of Plumpy’nut and to identify possible opportunities for policy intervention.