Sanku: Project Healthy Children


Project Healthy Children

Sanku-Project Healthy Children works with small and medium level millers in East Africa to fortify the most commonly consumed staple food (flour) with vitamins and minerals to end malnutrition in Africa.

What problem is Sanku-Project Healthy Children working on?

Even if a person feels full, if they aren’t getting the proper nutrients to grow and develop, they are at risk for a host of issues associated with malnutrition and hidden hunger. Hidden hunger takes the lives of 8,000 kids every day, simply because they are not getting the nutrients they need, Sanku reports. That’s why Sanku fortifies flour in the hardest to reach places in East Africa: to nourish families and end malnutrition.

In wealthy countries, food fortification has been a long-time best practice -- adding iron, zinc, B12, and vitamin D into staple foods like milk, bread, cereal, and salt. These are the vitamins and minerals that our bodies, brains, and immune systems need to develop adequately. According to Sanku, fortifying food is one of the cheapest ways to improve health and prevent birth defects and disease. And it holds an impressive ROI: the Gates Foundation reports that, "on a weighted average basis, every $1 invested in hidden hunger generates $27 in economic return from averted disease, improved earnings, and enhanced work productivity."

What does Sanku-Project Healthy Children do?

Sanku provides fortification technology and nutrient premix to small and medium millers (who feed 95% of the population in East Africa). Sanku installs its award-winning technology, the Dosifier, at no cost to the miller. The Dosifier automatically doses out the appropriate amount of nutrients into each bag of flour. Unlike other fortification appliances, Sanku's Dosifier is a “smart machine,” which provides accountability through remote monitoring and real-time insights to the Sanku team. To help make the program sustainable, Sanku sells the millers empty flour bags. The tiny margin made on the flour bags covers the cost of the miller’s nutrients.

Specifically, Sanku:

  • Partners with small and medium African flour mills to fortify staple foods with vital nutrients. Currently, Sanku is partnering with 1000+ millers across East Africa to reach 7.1 million people with nutritious food.
  • Helps millers affordably fortify their flour by offsetting the additional cost of nutrients through the sale of empty flour bags to millers.
  • Monitors the fortifying process remotely using IoT technology built into the Dosifiers, and visits the mills when needed.

Sanku has already reached 7.1 million people with fortified flour, and it projects that it will reach 25 million people by 2025.

The cost of food fortification is as low as 26 cents per person per year, depending on the food and specific vitamins added.

To learn more about Sanku, we recommend reading GiveWell's detailed 2015 review and its 2020 followup conversation.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Sanku-Project Healthy Children?1.

Aside from GiveWell's detailed 2015 review and its 2020 followup conversation, we don't currently have further information about the cost-effectiveness of PHC beyond it doing work in a high-impact cause area and taking a reasonably promising approach. However, Sanku has also provided some updated 2023 information about their work and its cost-effectiveness.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.