Capacity Building in Food security for Africa - CaBFoodS-Africa

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


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.


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