Reaching out to Project Teams on Nutrition Mainstreaming in Agriculture and Rural Development Projects

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo & Wanessa Marques Silva
Participants responding to the nutrition related questions during the round of quiz.
On 23 May 2017, the IFAD's Nutrition Team organized a breakout session on mainstreaming nutrition in IFAD financed projects. This dedicated session on nutrition took place during the IFAD’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Implementation Workshop (RIW) in Kampala, Uganda. The RIW presented a great opportunity to reach out and engage with project teams, country office colleagues and other stakeholders on the conversations on nutrition mainstreaming in IFAD operations. The nutrition session was jointly planned with the Rome based Agencies (RBAs) colleagues, and built on several consultative discussions to accelerate nutrition awareness in operations at country level.

Raising awareness on nutrition

In setting the scene on nutrition awareness and sensitization, participants had a round of virtual quiz to stimulate the discussion on nutrition mainstreaming. Analysis of the quiz exercise showed that most of the participants are aware of the implications of malnutrition to the wellbeing of people and national economy. Interestingly, this exercise exposed that the relation between gender and nutrition is still blurry to many respondents. This is a subject that should be explored further especially during workshops and trainings on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

Experiences on nutrition mainstreaming

Good practices on nutrition mainstreaming within IFAD-funded operations were presented. Nutrition focal points from IFAD funded projects in Burundi (Aloïs Hakizimana), Malawi (Manuel Mang'anya), Mozambique (Jeronimo Francisco) and Zambia (Martin Lyiwalii) shared their respective country experiences, which consisted of various innovative nutrition activities and different approaches for mainstreaming nutrition. The varied approaches include:
  • Access to microcredit through women groups; 
  • Adoption of local and traditional food to tackle malnutrition; 
  • Promotion of diversified food production and consumption; 
  • Training local promoters on nutrition, food preparation demonstration with active participation of the beneficiaries; 
  • Radio messages, songs and farmers hotline on good nutrition and improved family diet along with income generation of small producers. 
Taking advantage of the presence of significant members of the IFAD-funded projects teams during this session, the key messages of the ESA study: “Mapping of Nutrition-Sensitive Interventions in East and Southern Africa" was disseminated to participants. This study provided insights on the variety of nutrition-sensitive actions being implemented in ESA's portfolio and identified gaps and opportunities for effective nutrition mainstreaming.

Dissemination of FAO Toolkits on nutrition-sensitive agriculture

This session provided the space to learn and disseminate the available resources for agriculture-nutrition projects. Militezegga Mustapha, a colleague from FAO made a presentation that illustrated the need for combined efforts of agriculture, social protection, nutrition education and adequate care practices. She stressed that nutrition is linked to the entire food system including: 1) food production, 2) food handling, storage, 3) food trade and marketing and 4) consumer demand, food preparation and preferences. FAO Toolkit and eLearning modules for nutrition-sensitive programming were discussed and the hard copies of resource materials were distributed to participants. 

RBAs collaboration for nutrition at country level

Tantely Randrianasolo, M&E Manager, and Maria Fernanda Arraes De Souza, Programme Coordinator, from Madagascar and Mozambique, respectively, shared their experiences of successful RBAs collaboration on integrating nutrition in agriculture and rural development investments. Tantely narrated how the joint efforts in AINA programme in Madagascar implemented in collaboration with FAO, WFP and IFAD have addressed various elements of the integrated pathway to nutrition (awareness raising, training, tools, storage facilities, scaling up of experiences). The collaboration has brought significant improvements in dietary intake as well as physical infrastructure and social issues such as school attendance.

On the other hand, Arraes De Souza shared the Mozambique experiences where additional nutrition components were incorporated to the already ongoing projects. The RBAs collaboration in Mozambique is using different entry points i.e. nutrition awareness with leaders, training with women groups in complementing each other’s interventions for optimization of nutrition outcomes.

Furthermore, this forum provided the opportunity to reach out to the project team on the other RBAs collaboration initiatives on nutrition, such as the Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains (NSVC) and the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Resource Frameworks.

Indeed, this dedicated breakout session was well appreciated by participants and was followed up by several group and bilateral conversations on specific needs and way forward to accelerate nutrition mainstreaming at project and country levels. This type of outreach is essential to increase awareness and engage with project teams on nutrition in IFAD operations.

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