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Kenyan Politician’s Revolutionary Biscuit That Saved Millions of Children

  • Veteran politician Dr. Julia Ojiambo is arguably one of the most distinguished women leaders in the country having been the first female MP from Western province to be elected into Parliament after winning the Funyula Constituency seat in the 1974 general elections.

    She was the second woman after Grace Onyango of Kisumu to be elected into Parliament.

    Dr. Ojiambo is also a celebrated scholar, adding another feather to her cap on December 11, when she was conferred the Honorary Doctorate Degree, Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa).

    The Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi (right) confers the Honorary Doctorate Degree, Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) on Prof. Julia Ojiambo (left) on December 11, 2020.

    One of her accomplishments that impacted the lives of many children in the East African region is the role she played in the development of a high-protein biscuit to tackle malnutrition among children.

    Ojiambo was part of the team that developed the snack after moving to Uganda where her husband Dr. Hillary Ojiambo was working 

    “There was no way I was going to be left behind. Like Ruth in the Old Testament, I had long decided that wherever my husband went I too would follow as the good wife,” she recalled.

    After settling down to a new status and environment she began to look for new avenues of getting involved in the communities in which she lived. 

    She found out that children in Uganda were suffering from malnutrition and other health issues which pushed her to find a solution.

    Coupled with her interest in the field of nutrition, she volunteered to assist researchers in this area. As a result, Julia collaborated with Professor Jelliffe and Dr. Ward of the Infantile Malnutrition Unit at Mulago Hospital.

    Following this, the research team performed a series of experiments in the development and production of the biscuit from local foodstuff.

    Together they produced a groundnut-based protein-rich biscuit for children afflicted with Kwashiorkor, a nutritional disorder. 

    The biscuit was used to counter malnutrition among children in East Africa.

    It is this project that was the inspiration behind her winning a United Nations/FAO/UNICEF Fellowship to
    study Community Nutrition at London University. 

    With the fellowship, she was able to attain a Bachelor’s Degree in the field.

    Dr Julia Ojiambo
    Dr Julia Ojiambo

    Dr. Ojiambo went on to win several awards including the Deans Research Grant Award at the University of Nairobi for Research in Nutrition Status of pregnant and lactating mothers (1966-1988) and Food and Agriculture,(FAO) Ceres Gold Medal winner (for distinguished service in Rural programme and in the advancement of women (1976).

    In February 2007, she was awarded the Kenya coalition for action in Nutrition (KCAN) Nutritionist of the year.


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