Mama SASHA Project
Country of Operation
SummaryThe Sweet Potato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project has the idea of encouraging mothers to get the health care they needed and increase consumption of the orange-fleshed sweet potato, a highly nutritional potato that promised to reduce under-nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.
The International Potato Center, Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA), project is aimed at improving food security and livelihoods for poor families in Sub-Saharan Africa by exploiting the, as yet untapped, potential of this highly nutritious crop. The idea is to encourage mothers to get the health care they need and increase consumption of the orange-fleshed sweetpotato, a nutritional powerhouse that holds promise for reducing under-nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.
Key program components
When women visit their local health facility for prenatal care, they get vouchers for sweet potato planting material. In the first four months of distribution at four health facilities, 836 women received the vouchers and more than 500 redeemed them for vines. Follow-up visits to the homes of 216 women who picked up the vines found that 81 percent had planted them. One of the first facilities to distribute vouchers, Tamlega Dispensary, reported a 30 percent increase in first-time visits by pregnant women in their first and second trimesters during the first month of the project, compared to average attendance of first-time visits in the previous three months. If the result is repeated at other clinics, the voucher program may prove to be a tool that helps prenatal care nurses serve more women earlier in their pregnancies. The visits give nurses the chance to teach women about healthy habits during pregnancy and after their babies are born.
The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a major project to leverage the untapped potential of sweet potato to significantly improve the nutrition, incomes, and food production of farming families in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among impoverished women and children. The project, titled Sweet potato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA), was implemented in eight Sub-Saharan African countries, and was supported by a five-year, $21 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.