How does technology improve nutrition in East Africa?
Sanku-Project Healthy Children is an award-winning NGO that works with rural flour mills to end malnutrition in developing countries. The client makes structural adjustment programs and technology-based solutions that intend to improve global health by working closely with local millers, other NGOs, and governments to help at-risk communities.
Universally, certain nutrients are necessary for strong, healthy lives. The developed world benefits from large-scale fortification of staple food products - whether its adding iodine to our salt or iron in our cereal. Sanku started with Tanzania where rural populations often depend on local mills for 85% of their food. Most local mills lack the ability fortify staple food products, contributing to significant malnutrition and public health issues.
Phase 1 (Process Improvement):
Sanku had proven their concept with prototypes. Linx optimized the machine's mechanical and electrical function by re-engineering a number of processes.
Moving on from the prototype’s sheet metal enclosures, Linx changed the manufacturing process and materials by replacing an existing sheet metal enclosure to a roto-molded enclosure. As a result, the total assembly cost and shipping weight were reduced, thus streamlining the entire supply chain.
Linx engineering also helped bring Sanku’s electronics to the next level. To start, Linx traveled with Sanku to a number of rural mills around Tanzania to evaluate the electrical feed to each mill. The intention of this study was to evaluate local electrical grids to ensure product design met local performance requirements. In developing countries, infrastructure such as electrical performance naturally displays variability.
Phase 2 (IoT Enablement):
In the second phase of this project, both the software and hardware were updated for better functionality, including machine to machine (M2M) communications. This upgrade enabled the client to remotely monitor the machines, receive real-time diagnostics, and track the population impact through production.
Linx enabled Sanku’s dosifiers with a real-time operating system (RTOS) and over-the-air (OTA) updates. These two features combined allow remote, two-way communication between devices and people.
To facilitate M2M communication, Linx evaluated a number of options like Wi-Fi and telemetry. Although it is traditionally the most expensive form of communication to set up, cellular stood out as the best option. Long-range communication and reliability provided by cellular are what’s best for the project. Linx selected Vodafone as the service provider among the world’s top cellular providors. Vodafone offered great services in developing countries and a low cost cellular module that worked with Sanku’s requirements.
Linx took another trip out to Tanzania to support retrofitting existing field units, while also supporting installation of these new M2M connected machines. Linx worked with Sanku’s impressive field service tech team for knowledge sharing among experts and performance continuity.
Since this case study was initially published in 2017, Sanku reported in 2018 that they have “doubled [their] reach… feeding 1 million people for less than a dollar per person annually.” What an outstanding achievement.