Southern African Nutrition Initiative (SANI)

Malnourished women are more likely to die in childbirth or have low birth weight babies, who are themselves more vulnerable to disease and death. Chronically malnourished children suffer life-long consequences in cognitive ability, school performance and future earnings, limiting the development potential of nations. CARE knows that addressing malnutrition today could bring economic benefits 100 times greater than the cost of interventions.

Because of widespread malnutrition, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia continue to have some of the highest child mortality rates in the world. Currently 45% of all deaths among children under five are caused by malnutrition due to low breastfeeding rates, lack of dietary diversity, poor environmental sanitation and food insecurity. View the infographic to learn more about the current situation for women, children and families in these three countries. Over the past two years, CARE Canada and its project partners — Cuso International, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD), and McGill University — have been working directly with communities in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia to improve the nutritional status of women and children. The project, known as the Southern African Nutrition Initiative (SANI), is funded by the Government of Canada and is shining the light on women and girls’ access to proper nutrition.

SANI aims to improve the nutritional status of women of reproductive age and children under five, while working with local health authorities and communities in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Specifically, SANI is expected to contribute to the improved health of approximately 230,000 individuals directly, and over 345,000 individuals indirectly.

SANI’s gender transformative services and programs place a particular focus on reducing the inequalities between men and women, girls and boys. The project focuses on the promotion of learning and knowledge among families and communities. Our work is foundational and intended to help the people of these communities implement lasting change and create the conditions for communities to thrive.

Download the SANI Project Brief (PDF)

What are we doing to help?

Train and Equip Community Health Workers
  • Provide training to health care workers to deliver quality nutrition counselling and lifesaving treatment to those suffering from malnutrition
  • Provide equipment and supplies (such as height boards, mid‐upper arm circumference measuring tapes, and weight scales to promote growth monitoring)
  • Identify and treat acute malnutrition through case management and therapeutic feeding
Improved Nutrition Practices
  • Educate women and men about the nutritional needs of infants, young children, women of reproductive age, women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and women who are breastfeeding
  • Educate community members in nutritious eating habits, including cooking demonstrations with both women and men to encourage the use of new nutritious foods
  • Support community backyard gardens by providing drought‐resistant seeds and equipment, and educating communities on improved planning and fertilizing methods
  • Provide nutrition support to women and families living with HIV and AIDS
Improve Water, Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Facilitate access to clean drinking water and hygiene facilities through construction or rehabilitation of water‐points/wells, hand‐washing stations and latrines
  • Train community groups to assess, rehabilitate, monitor and repair wells and latrines
  • Educate community members on healthy sanitation practices, including hand‐washing and waste disposal
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  • Mainstream gender throughout the project to ensure that all project interventions and activities focus on achieving gender equality and benefiting women’s access to nutrition and health services.
  • Transform gender norms that adversely affect the health and nutrition outcomes of women and children, particularly through Community Dialogues with women, girls, men, boys, health service providers, and community leaders
  • Support health and nutrition service providers to ensure accountability in the provision of high‐quality, woman‐centred services
  • Promote and support “gender champions” ‐ men and boys who will lead, support and continue the gender norm transformation in their communities and families after the project is completed