Half of Cambodia's pregnant women and children suffer from iron deficiency which can lead to lethargy, impaired growth and cognitive development in children, and increased risks of premature delivery and maternal mortality. Cooking in iron pots transmits iron to food but are not affordable for those who could benefit most from extra iron in their diet.
Dr. Christopher Charles, a Canadian epidemiologist in Cambodia, distributed pieces of iron to local women to place in their aluminum pots to see if there would be a beneficial iron transfer but local women were reluctant to use the iron chunks in their cooking.
Then Charles learned of a fish known as try mantrap. This symbol was believed to bring luck, health, and happiness. He distributed iron replicas of this fish and women started cooking with them. Within 12 months, Charles reports, anemia in villages where the fish was distributed virtually disappeared.