Assessing nutrition capacity in Africa

ASSESSING NUTRITION CAPACITY IN AFRICA

by kkeeton

Participants in the Innovative Methods Doctoral Education Course, 'Urbanisation, Livelihoods & Food Security' at the University of Botswana, 2014. (Credit: Wai-Tim Ng)

Participants in the Innovative Methods Doctoral Education Course, 'Urbanisation, Livelihoods & Food Security' at the University of Botswana, 2014. (Credit: Wai-Tim Ng)

What is the current state of agriculture-nutrition-health (ANH) research capacity in Africa, and how can it be improved?

A study commissioned by A4NH and led by Linley Chiwona-Karltun and Marat Sartas of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences examined just that. Through an online survey and key informant interviews with stakeholders involved with ANH programs and research activities in Africa, the authors began to identify key capacity gaps and constraints within this space. A newly published A4NH Note on the study provides an overview of the individual and institutional nutritional expertise in Africa, outline the research and development programs that have operated in the region, and identify the gaps in capacity in the sector, along with the reasons behind it. 

The study finds a disconnect between health scientists and economists, as well as an absence of an enabling environment for carrying out ANH research. While African universities have started nutrition-related programs, the demand for such programs exceeds the resources available, and the curriculum is not tailored to local or regional issues. Survey respondents spoke about the need for nutrition leadership mentorship programs to build capacity among program staff belonging to local organizations and the government and for improving the communication of research results.

Conclusions from the study and recommendations which have been summarized into two parts 1) research and partnership strategy, and 2) capacity strengthening - can be useful for research programs, such as A4NH, as well as other initiatives planning to collaborate with stakeholders operating in the African ANH landscape.

Results from the study are available for download here:

Nutrition Capacity within Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health Research for Development in Africa: Current Status and Assessment of Future Opportunities, Chiwona-Karltun L. and Sartas, M, A4NH Note, May 2016 (PDF, 636 KB)