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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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