Capacity Building in Food security for Africa - CaBFoodS-Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Pretoria
Department Name: Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sci

Abstract

African countries are confronted with a triple burden of malnutrition. This triple burden consists of (i) deficiency of macronutrients leading to malnutrition (ii) deficiency of micronutrients (iii) overweight and its associated diseases. Africa is also faced with the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. A transformed agricultural and food system is thus a necessary condition for addressing this double-triple challenge.

Achieving nutrition and food security in Africa is a complex and multi-faceted challenge, which requires novel approaches, evidence and new policy and institutional enabling environments. The ARUA Centre of Excellence in Food Security brings together ARUA members from East, West and Southern Africa, as well as a broader consortium of African and international partners (AFROFOODS, University of the Western Cape and Leeds University) working on food security research, policy and capacity development to exponentially increase the networks of each participating institution, and to maximise the translation of knowledge into impact at the grassroots and policy levels. It is intended that the network will bring research and academic excellence to the fore throughout the region, developing strong and viable research universities, offering postgraduate training to talented students, and sharing academic resources across universities on the continent.

This project sets out to collaboratively build the capacities required across research and policy to tackle this multi-faceted challenge, and help avoid the policy paralysis that in some countries led to little or no progress towards addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The project team, which includes the University of Pretoria, University of Nairobi, the University of Ghana, Legon, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) incorporates expertise in agriculture, post-harvest losses, land use, food security, nutrition and health, rural livelihoods, and policy and institutional analysis. FANRPAN is a multi-stakeholder pan-African network whose mission is to build resilient food systems across Africa through the assessment and creation of food, agriculture and natural resources policies that are both evidence-based and developed in partnership with non-state actors. RUFORUM supports universities to address the important and largely unfulfilled role that universities play in contributing to the well-being of small-scale farmers and economic development of countries throughout the sub- Saharan Africa region.

The consortium will address capacity building and policy development under 5 broad themes: (1) Building capacity in food security through different approaches, (2) Retaining nutrient quality through complementary interventions, (3) Building skills engaging with big data science through the lens of agriculture and food systems, (4) develop policies for optimal nutrition sensitive options, and (5) a high level colloquium.

Work will be focused in three countries in Africa: Kenya and Ghana - which are low-income countries with varied farming systems - and South Africa, which is an upper middle income country. In each country, research and policy capacity will be built through collaborative partnerships across academic institutions, non-governmental organisations, policy makers and farmers. Through FANRPAN's inter-governmental policy expertise and platforms, we aim to generate lessons learned from our partner countries and disseminate these across Africa to contribute to capacity building and through the application of an appropriate model of evidence into policy in other African countries, and at the regional level.

Planned Impact

Nutrition (and food) is crucially important to the economy via the role it plays in enhancing the learning capacity of learners, increasing their potential to play an important role in the work force later in their lives. In addition, education on important dietary choices and better nutrition through diverse diets will improve both health status and ability to work and earn a sustainable livelihood.

Good nutrition is a result of three underlying conditions: food security, adequate primary health services (including water and sanitation) and optimal care and support, especially to children and women. Since, the problems of malnutrition and their causes tend to differ from one place or individual to another and change over time, it is necessary for each country to build up their own capacity to regularly assess and analyse their food security and nutrition situation and to enable proper planning and implementation of actions.

Agriculture has significant potential for a multiplier effect on local economies, increasing food security and nutrition generating income and employment opportunities. Agricultural transformation in Africa needs prioritisation of actions. Prioritisation requires information. Underlying all of these is a critical need for the political will to undertake large scale reform. The vision of the ARUA Center of Excellence in Food Security is to harness partnerships in research and innovation to drive agricultural and food system transformation to ensure sustainable food security and nutrition in Africa. With this project such information will be available to inform policies and programmes on decision making in nutrition and food security.

The primary academic outputs will be for graduate students and policy makers to work with the researchers/recognised academics in the thematic areas, to significantly increase knowledge sharing (capacity building) in the focal countries. In this way, a critical mass will be attained to tackle specific, persistent development challenges in food security.
The application of growing capacity in UK and African students and mid-level policymakers has the potential to enable better dialogue with policy makers, and a greater capability for transference of research into evidence-based policy.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The combined pressures of demographic changes, urbanization, shifting diets and climate change requires a new set of innovative solutions. Big data and smart tech solutions are moving into agriculture in a rapid manner, offering high potential for unprecedented innovation.
Exploitation Route The Capacity Building in Food security for Africa - CaBFoodS-Africa- project sets out to collaboratively build the capacities required across research and policy, and help avoid the policy paralysis that in some countries led to little or no progress towards addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Healthcare

URL https://www.up.ac.za/arua-centre-of-excellence-in-food-security/news/post_2859658-exploring-the-unknown-territory-of-big-data-in-the-food-and-agricultural-landscape
 
Description BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (GCRF-STARS)
Amount € 136,000 (EUR)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2020 
End 03/2021
 
Title FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Table for Western Africa (2019) / Table de composition des aliments FAO/INFOODS pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest (2019) 
Description The FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Table for Western Africa (WAFCT 2019) is an update of the West African Food Composition Table of 2012, which lacked some important components, foods and recipes. WAFCT 2019 contains almost three times as many food entries and double the number of components, with increased overall data quality. Many of the data points from WAFCT 2012 have been replaced with better data - mostly analytical data from Africa, with a special emphasis on Western Africa. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact These improvements are essential to understanding the nutrient composition of foods in the region and to promoting their appropriate use.These new data from WAFCT 2019 will support further research towards an expanded and improved evidence base and will support better, more informed decisions and effective policies and programmes for improved nutrition in Africa. 
URL http://www.fao.org/infoods/infoods/tables-and-databases/faoinfoods-databases/en/
 
Description Agrobiodiversity, Food and Resilience Network for Africa (AReNA) 
Organisation Open University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution AReNA aims to achieve a better understanding of how traditional and indigenous practices of growing, preparing and consuming food contribute to better nutrition, health, and livelihoods. In the face of rising levels of hunger, malnutrition and non-communicable diseases in Africa, AReNA will contribute to promoting food systems that are more diverse, more equitable, and more resilient to social and environmental change. The network will bring together academic researchers and non-academic stakeholders in the UK and Africa. A letter of support was given for the international, interdisciplinary research partnerships application for the GCRF Cultures, Behaviours and Histories of Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition Call.
Collaborator Contribution The main applicant is Shonil Bhagwat from The Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk/people/sab2225 who prepared the application. The institutions in the partnership include three UK-based and three Africa-based institutions along with three NGOs/SMEs who work in Africa.
Impact No outcomes yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa) 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A proposal was submitted by the University of Pretoria research team to the ARUA - UKRI GCRF Partnership Programme, Research Excellence Call. The PI is Prof Frans Swanepoel (UP).
Collaborator Contribution The partners contribute to the proposal through a writing workshop (30 September until 2 October 2019 at our Future Africa campus in Pretoria) and further online discussions and final preparation of the proposal.
Impact No output yet - awaits funding outcome
Start Year 2019
 
Description GCRF Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (STARS) 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team of the University of Pretoria will contribute their time and expertise to developing and implementing the training programme, and to seek funding beyond the one year funded period.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Leeds will have overall responsibility for the implementation, development and implementation of the training programmes, with support from the co-Is in the UK and Africa.
Impact A susccesful project apllication - Research skills in nutrition-sensitive food systems to reduce hunger, malnutrition and health inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa
Start Year 2019
 
Description ARUA Center of Excellence Workshop on Food Security and Digital Technology 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A workshop on digitalization and food security was held. Presentations at this workshop included;
- Big data and Agricultural Food Security - unexplored territory? Presented by Melissa van der Merwe, Marlene Labuschagne and Marion Delport from the University of Pretoria
- Building gender capacities in agricultural research for development: Lessons from the GREAT training model, presented by Brenda Boonabana from Makerere University
- The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in agriculture presented by Ciira Maina from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.

During the workshop, participants were exposed to the future challenges and research in the fourth industrial revolution and had the opportunity to rub shoulders with a number of influential colleagues at other local, regional and international universities. The multifaceted and multidisciplinary nature of the conference made for interesting discussions from different vantage points that allowed critically exploring innovative solutions to address the big developmental challenges facing the globe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description ARUA Second Biennial Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The ARUA 2019 conference aimed to bring together international expertise from academia, government, industry, as well as from civil society to deliberate on the issues and pave the way for nurturing and supporting the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa. It focussed on how African universities can lead the way in the areas of teaching and research. Prof Hettie Schönfeldt (Director of the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Food Security) presented on "Challenges and opportunities for food security and health in rural Africa". It was found that food based approaches are the most effective strategy to address malnutrition, including dietary diversification, improved food availability and affordability, nutrition sensitive agriculture and education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://arua.org.za/category/2019-conference-info/
 
Description Postgraduate training course on The Production and Use of Food Composition Data in Nutrition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 24 participants from 20 countries attended a one-week training course on The Production and Use of Food Composition Data in Nutrition. The course was offered by the Division of Human Nutrition of Wageningen University and Graduate School VLAG (The Netherlands) in collaboration with other partners such as the University of Pretoria. The course was held at the Wageningen International Conference Center, The Netherlands from 1 - 6 December 2019.

The ARUA-UKRI GCRF Partnership Programme for Capacity Building Food Security for Africa (CaBFoodS-Africa)* supported three participants to attend the course. These participants were: Dr Mesfin Wogayehu Tenagashaw from Ethiopia, Zani Veldsman from South Africa and Radwa Donia from Egypt.

The course content was robust and covered a range of topics regarding the development, maintenance and use of a food composition database, with a specific focus on nutrition. Capacity building for food composition databases in Africa remains critical to better inform policies and programmes aimed at food security, diet and health. May the knowledge gained through this course contribute to improving and expanding food composition database activities in Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019