We focus our efforts on improving the health of women and children living in Senegal and in high burden countries of the Sahel.



NI priorities in Senegal and the Sahel include:

  • Vitamin A supplementation for all children 6-59 months of age, through Child Health Days and via integration into routine health care as key delivery tools.
  • High coverage of zinc and ORS to treat diarrhoea in children.
  • House-use of adequately iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency disorders, with a particular focus on women of child-bearing age.
  • Increase salt iodization micro-enterprises to effectively provide iodized salt to local populations throughout the region, to prevent iodine deficiency disorders.
  • Reduce anaemia among pregnant women through iron and folic acid supplementation.
  • Help reduce illness and death for children under the age of five through community-based health actions and interventions.

The mortality rate for children under five remains high throughout the region, and governments are working hard to reduce preventable child deaths.

The NI Senegal and Sahel regional office supports these efforts through our programs, including vitamin A, salt iodization, community-based maternal and newborn health, advocacy efforts, data collection and research.

In Senegal, we support the work of the Cellule de la Lutte Contre la Malnutrition, the convening body for nutrition in the country, which has a direct report to the Prime Minister.

We are pleased to launch the Integrated Nutrition Project for the Kolda and Kedougou Regions (PINKK). PINKK is a collaborative project that links health care, agriculture (including livestock) and business with the aim of improving nutritional health and food security for people in these regions, particularly for women and young.


Vitamin A

Some of the highest coverage rates of vitamin A supplements in the world are in the Sahel region of West Africa. Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger have all almost achieved 100% coverage of two doses of vitamin A, a flagship Canadian child survival program, as have many other Sahel countries.

Vitamin A supplementation can reduce child mortality rates by up to 24% in vitamin A deficient populations.

In Senegal, NI has been working with the Ministry of Health to integrate vitamin A supplementation into routine health services for families, from door-to-door campaigns, ensuring that coverage rates remain high and health care workers are receiving the training and support needed.

This is part of NI’s “wave-approach” to ensuring all children in need receive the recommended two doses, boosting immune systems and increasing survival rates for children under the age of five.

Zinc and Oral Rehydration Salts

Another major killer of children in the region is diarrhoea. Zinc, when used with oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea, not only helps children get better faster, it can even save their lives.

The Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH), a partnership between NI, the Government of Canada and Teck to scale up the use of zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) to treat diarrhoea, has two programs in the Sahel – Senegal and Burkina Faso.

This public-private-civil society alliance, is committed to reducing child mortality by accelerating the use of zinc supplements and ORS to treat diarrhoea, one of the most common killers of children in Sahel countries.

In Senegal, health workers in public, private and community sectors, including home-care providers at the village-level (DS-Doms), are expanding the use of zinc and ORS across the country.  Since 2013, due to the government’s resolve and partner support, this treatment is free for children under the age of five.

NI’s belief that simply surviving is not enough drives our work in Child Health, Growth and Development. We want to increase the number of children who thrive by making sure they get the essential vitamins and minerals they need to promote their optimal health, growth and development.

Other countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso

With funding from the Government of Canada, we embarked on a new project to demonstrate how to not only treat acute malnutrition in children in Burkina Faso but also to end the cycle of repeated cases of severe acute malnutrition by having stronger community-based nutrition supports.

We helped train health workers in Burkina Faso to lead community growth monitoring and also preparing them with the skills necessary to be able to support and encourage mothers to give the best possible available complementary foods.

These health workers demonstrated to mothers how to use MNPs so they can fill the micronutrient gaps for their growing children at home.

When underweight children are identified, these health workers provided extra support and counselling to prevent further declines; however, when a child is found with severe acute malnutrition, the health workers are equipped to refer them to treatment programs where they will receive ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF).

The period of pregnancy and childbirth is a risky time for women and their newborns living in Senegal and throughout the Sahel region.

It is estimated that fewer than half of pregnant women visit a health care worker more than once during pregnancy or give birth with a skilled attendant. This greatly increases their risk in pregnancy and child birth.

The Government of Senegal has made it a top priority to improve maternal, newborn and infant health over the coming years and NI, through support from Canada’s Muskoka Initiative, is supporting this priority. One of the key objectives of its plan is to improve community-based neonatal services, and reduce the risk of dying during the first 28 completed days of life.

Saving mothers and newborns: Community-based maternal and child health and nutrition
  • With support through the Government of Canada, NI worked with the Government of Senegal and others to improve community-based neonatal services.
  • Through our Community-based Maternal and Newborn Health and Nutrition demonstration project, more than 40,000 women and newborns were reached, providing better odds at survival and a lifetime of improved health.
  • Our research project in Niger aimed to fill gaps in the evidence on nutrition of pregnant women, and make recommendations on how to improve it through antenatal care.
Salt Iodization

NI Senegal provides technical and logistical support to the thousands of small salt producers to develop profitable business plans and improve salt production techniques.

We continue to support government agencies enforce the regulation of mandatory salt iodization as well as evaluate the impact of salt iodization programs on the population.

Together, we have helped to strengthen the Government of Senegal’s salt iodization program “Cellule de la Lutte Contre la Malnutrition” and developed a sustainable potassium iodate supply system. Iodized salt increases the health and nutrition of populations. The model seen in Senegal delivers health benefits across West Africa and, at the same time, supports sustainable economic growth.

Since Senegal is a major exporter of salt, progress in iodization impacts the entire Sahel region.

NI is working with UNICEF to support the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (West Africa Economic and Monetary Union – WAEMU) to develop harmonized salt standards to facilitate regional salt trade and distribution.

Iron and folic acid supplementation

NI Senegal works with the Ministry of Health in pilot testing and scale up community-based iron supplementation programs targeting pregnant women through pre-natal services in three regions: Thies, Fatick and Dakar.

These regions were selected because the frequency of anaemia is above the national average and antenatal care rates are fairly low.

This demonstration project uses community health worker, under the supervision of facility health workers, to distribute iron and folic acid during home visits, encourage adherence and rally women to attend anti-natal care. We are also developing a strategy to improve adherence through social marketing, improve interpersonal counseling, and strengthen the health system to deliver and monitor IFA supplies.

Food fortification

NI Senegal has been instrumental in the implementation of the food fortification program in Senegal, particularly through the development of the national food fortification standards, and industry assessment and equipment.

We continue to provide technical assistance and funding for food fortification – particularly the fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid and edible oils with vitamin A. We are also helping the government mobilize additional funding for fortification and providing training and technical assistance to ensure adequate monitoring of food fortification.

We are an active member of the National Food Fortification Alliance, which helps partners coordinate food fortification activity. Part of our efforts are focused on helping develop and roll out small scale fortification initiatives targeting rural populations.


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