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Capacity Building to Improve Early Nutrition and Health in South Africa

The ImpENSA project is a multi-centre collaboration co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. The project consists of a consortium of members from three European and three South African higher education institutions, and two South African health professional organisations:

  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany

  • University of Southampton, United Kingdom

  • Medical University of Warsaw, Poland

  • North-West University, South Africa

  • Stellenbosch University, South Africa

  • University of Cape Town, South Africa

  • Association for Dietetics in South Africa

  • Nutrition Society of South Africa




Erasmus+ Capacity Building Project

ImpENSA is funded by the European Union under Erasmus+ programme that supports projects in the field of education, training, youth and sport in Europe. The project number is 598488-EPP-1-2018-1-DE-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP.

For further details of Erasmus+ programme, please visit:



Work Package 1

Preparation (months 1-6)

An in-depth analysis of the existing training needs and landscape in South Africa to generate a directed and appropriate curriculum for the training programme. WP lead: North-West University

Work Package 2

Development I (months 6-12)  

Setting up the content for the training programme. Generation of a training programme descriptor and contents for the eLearning modules on micronutrient nutrition in the first thousand days and communication for behaviour change, and the face-to-face training components on practical counselling and pedagogical skills. WP lead: University of Southampton

Work Package 3

Development II (months 9-24)  

Implementation and maintenance of the ImpENSA eLearning platform, compiling instruction design and media creation SOPs, creation of eLearning Module 1 (knowledge development on diet and micronutrients) and Modules 2 and 3 (counselling skills training support material). WP lead: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich

Work Package 4

Development III (months 9-35)  

Creation of Module 4 (Training of the Trainer) and preparation of training material for the module. Setting up in-house and mobile training facilities for the delivery of the training programme. Delivery of the programme with Module 4 and piloting of the programme by trained trainers. Development of a draft business model to ensure sustainability of the project. WP lead: University of Cape Town

Work Package 5

Quality Plan (months 1-36)  

Monitoring of the project within the consortium, planning evaluation studies and designing data collection tools to evaluate the training programme, and the programme piloted by the trained trainers. Conducting a follow-up competence assessment. WP lead: Medical University Warsaw

Work Package 6

Dissemination (months 1-36)

Creation and maintenance of the ImpENSA website and other social media activities. Generation of corporate identity materials, newsletters, publications, press releases, videos, expert statements and presentations at related conferences and meetings. WP lead: Stellenbosch University

Work Package 7

Management (months 1-36)

Creation of the project management and controlling systems, and internal and communication platforms. Steering project panels and boards and organisation of project meetings. Planning, guidance and implementation of project reports. WP lead: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich


Consortium Partners

Six partner institutions are involved in this project together with two associate partners.

Three partner institutions are from the European Union and three from South Africa. The associate partners are also from South Africa.




  • The theme of the South African Child Gauge 2020, published by the Children’s Institute of UCT, is “Food and nutrition security”. This review highlights the slow violence of child malnutrition, and identifies crucial intervention points across the life course. 

         Read more.

  • Visit the Side-by-Side campaign, an initiative led by the National Department of Health, for COVID-19 related resources for pregnant women and caregivers of young children.
  • Visit the Western Cape Government’s First 1 000 days website for more information and resources about this critical period of development.



  • Read how “Preconception micronutrient supplementation positively affects child intellectual functioning at 6 y of age” in the March 2021 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • Read the March 2021 Lancet series review update on effective interventions to address maternal and child malnutrition. 
  • Nutrition status prior to conception and during pregnancy and infancy seems to have an influence on the disease risk in adulthood (early nutrition /developmental programming). 

       Read more in Human Nutrition.

  • Invest in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood, one of the “Five urgent actions to protect children's right to nutrition in the COVID-19 pandemic”.

       Read more in The Lancet.

  • Breastfeeding is the best available protective measure for infants and their mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and should be encouraged and supported throughout.    

       Read more in the International Breastfeeding Journal.



  • Introduction: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy. This course offers an overview of the latest research findings and international recommendations on a variety of nutrition-related aspects and outcomes of pregnancy. 

       Read more.


The first 1000 days of life refers to the period from conception until a child is two years old. 

South Africa is grappling with a public health crisis in the form of a “triple burden of malnutrition” – the co-existence of micronutrient deficiencies, undernutrition and obesity. This has negative short- and long-term implications for children’s growth, health, wellbeing and development, as well as for the productivity of individuals, families, communities and the nation. The United Nations has identified the first 1 000 days of life as a crucial period to prevent growth faltering and optimise growth and development. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasises the central role of nutrition during this period to improve neurodevelopment, reduce stunting and malnutrition and prevent childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases. 

ImpENSA will develop an innovative training course presented through blended learning to health care personnel in South Africa. The purpose of the training course is to improve the knowledge and skills of health care personnel regarding the nutrition of mothers and infants during the first 1 000 days. This will enable them to support families during this crucial time period.



Dr. Shweta Feher

Project Coordinator

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✆ +49 (0)89 4400 5 2981

South Africa

Estelle Strydom

South Africa Project Coordinator

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✆ +27 18 299 2399


Kerry Sexton

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✆ +27 83 974 9833

United Kingdom

Prof. Keith Godfrey

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✆ +44 (0) 238 077 7624



Dr. Bernadeta Patro Golab

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✆ +48 22 317 9536