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. Approximately 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 situation for women, children and families in these three countries, according to CARE's own baseline studies.

Since 2016, 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 a 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 interventions 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. The 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?

Training and Equipping Community Health Workers
  • Providing training to health care workers to deliver quality nutrition counselling and lifesaving treatment to those suffering from malnutrition
  • Providing equipment and supplies (such as height boards, mid‐upper arm circumference measuring tapes, and weight scales to promote growth monitoring)
  • Identifying and treat acute malnutrition through case management and therapeutic feeding
Improving Nutrition Practices
  • Educating 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
  • Educating community members in nutritious eating habits, including cooking demonstrations with both women and men to encourage the use of new nutritious foods
  • Supporting community backyard gardens by providing drought‐resistant seeds and equipment, and educating communities on improved planning and fertilizing methods
  • Providing nutrition support to women and families living with HIV and AIDS
Improving Water, Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Facilitating access to clean drinking water and hygiene facilities through construction or rehabilitation of water‐points/wells, hand‐washing stations and latrines
  • Training community groups to assess, rehabilitate, monitor and repair wells and latrines
  • Educating community members on healthy sanitation practices, including hand‐washing and waste disposal
Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women
  • Mainstreaming 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.
  • Transforming 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
  • Supporting health and nutrition service providers to ensure accountability in the provision of high‐quality, woman‐centred services
  • Promoting and supporting “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