Sanku-Project Healthy Children
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Sanku-Project Healthy Children

Project Health Children's mission is to provide children everywhere with the simple, inexpensive, basic nutritional support they require to survive and thrive. PHC focuses on achieving wide micronutrient coverage for at-risk communities in Africa and beyond.

Donate to Project Healthy Children

Currently serving
55M
people worldwide
On target to serve
100M
people by 2025
US$0.53
fortifies food for one person for a year

The problem: micronutrient malnutrition

Over two billion people don’t receive the vitamins and minerals their bodies require to stay healthy, including iron, vitamin A, folic acid, and iodine. [1] This micronutrient malnutrition, often referred to as “hidden hunger,” can lead to blindness, miscarriage, maternal death during childbirth, birth defects, compromised immune systems, and cognitive and developmental delays.

Micronutrient malnutrition is the leading cause of preventable intellectual and developmental disabilities in the world. [2] It also kills 3 million children under five each year — that’s over 8,200 deaths per day, and nearly half of all deaths in children under five. [3] [4]

Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are due to malnutrition.
Three kids in blue and red jackets

Without proper nutrition, the poverty trap deepens: people become ill and vulnerable to disability or death, they cannot attend school or work, their families lose resources in order to care for them, and the cycle perpetuates.

The solution: cost-effective food fortification programs

Food fortification is one of the least expensive solutions to malnutrition, and has proven results. [5] Adding iron to soy sauce in China led to a 33% reduction in anaemia, and within a year of adding folic acid to wheat flour in Chile, spina bifida incidences were reduced by 51%.

How Project Healthy Children works

PHC is a global leader in micronutrient fortification, working with government and NGO partners to design, implement, scale, and monitor effective food fortification programs.

After they successfully designed and implemented large-scale programs in Rwanda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Burundi — work that continues to benefit 55 million people [6] — PHC realized that as much as 95% of the people in at-risk communities did not have access to the centrally processed fortified food that large-scale programs provide. In Tanzania, for example, 95% of maize is produced by small-scale local mills.

In order to keep working to achieve complete micronutrient coverage, PHC formed the Sanku initiative to help small local mills fortify their food. Sanku equips millers with a machine called a dosifier, which fortifies staple foods with the correct dosage of micronutrient premix (including iron, folic acid, B12, and zinc).

Two small-scale mill workers standing next to a Sanku dosifier
The Sanku dosifier is orange. Bags with pink stripes are sold to millers by PHC-Sanku.

Sanku bulk-buys empty flour bags, which are then sold to the millers at the same price they would otherwise pay. They use the profits to provide millers the appropriate amount of premix at no additional cost. The dosifier’s proprietary technology is fully automated. Sanku monitors the miller’s use of the dosifier remotely, and visits the mill if the dosifier is not in use or needs repair.

PHC’s Sanku initiative currently operates across Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, and Tanzania, reaching over two million people that do not have access to centrality processed foods. Sanku is on track to reach more than 100 million people by 2025. [7]

What makes Project Healthy Children so effective


Cost-effectiveness

On average, PHC’s Sanku program costs only US$0.53 to fortify food for one person for a year.

Scalability

PHC is on track to roll out 554 dosifiers by the end of 2020, providing micronutrients to an estimated 3 million people. 

Targeted programs

PHC looks at existing data and undertakes wide-ranging surveys of eating patterns to discover which foods to fortify with which micronutrients to benefit as many people as possible. They are also currently running a program in Tanzania to fortify the diets of Burundian and Congolese refugees.

Compounding impact

Food fortification takes pressure off healthcare systems by preventing illness and disease. It also helps grow developing economies. The Copenhagen Consensus estimates that each dollar spent on iron and iodine fortification could yield over US$9 in economic benefit. [8]

Project Healthy Children’s accountability and sustainability

PHC reports its metrics of success online, detailing how the organization measures impact, performance, process, and cost-effectiveness. [9] More importantly, PHC’s overarching mission is to ensure that they do not become a permanent part of a country’s food distribution and health systems. They help launch successful initiatives and excel at finding sustainable ways for governments to continue that work without a permanent presence.

Recognition for Project Healthy Children

PHC is regarded as a Standout Charity by rigorous evaluator GiveWell, and has been chosen to receive a “top charity participation grant” from Good Ventures. [10]

In 2018, they won a Zayed Sustainability Prize and a IoT Evolution Product of the Year Award. They were included in Fast Company’s list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 and the Sanku Dosifier was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019. 

The PHC-Sanku dosifier is being used by USAID and the World Food Programme.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will my donation to PHC pay for?

Sanku uses donor funding to procure the dosifiers, as they are too costly for millers to afford. Sanku retains ownership of the machines, leasing them to mills conditional on their compliance with a contract that requires the purchase of grain bags that off-set the cost of the nutritive premix. 

Sanku visits mills every one to two weeks, examining the dosifier and delivering bags and free nutritive premix.

What foods can be fortified?

There are three main criteria for foods to be eligible for fortification. The should be:

  1. eaten in consistent quantities by large numbers of people
  2. compatible with the micronutrients being added (meaning they won’t cause changes in color, taste, or shelf life) 
  3. relatively inexpensive so that low-income families can benefit

Successful examples include salt, sugar, oil, margarine, milk, wheat flour, maize meal, rice, tortilla mix, soy sauce, and bouillon cubes.

 

Why does The Life You Can Save recommend Project Healthy Children?

We recommend PHC because they have been named a Standout Charity by GiveWell, one of our charity evaluators. 

Is my donation tax-deductible?