Agriculture for Improved Nutrition Programme

Redressing the high burden of malnutrition, especially under nutrition in Sub Saharan Africa is critical. Nearly one third of all children’s deaths in SSA occur in the first few months of life – 64% occurring within the first year. Under nutrition is an underlying cause of nearly a half of all deaths among children under five years of age in SSA. Agriculture has the potential to improve nutrition and contribute to the reduction of child mortality in SSA. However, this opportunity has not been fully exploited in the continent. Diet diversity is fundamental to good health and good nutrition depends on adequate food, health, and caring practices.  Women are at the nexus of ag-nutrition-health because of their roles as farmers and caregivers. They are more likely than men to spend increased income on food and health. All reproductive-age women are key targets for nutrition interventions. Increased agricultural productivity can improve nutrition through multiple pathways that include: increased income for food and health, consumption of own production, reduced food prices and women’s time allocation. The Programme aims to optimize nutrition outcomes from agricultural projects and interventions. The projects implemented under this programme include;

  1. Improving Nutrition outcomes through Optimized Agricultural Interventions (ATONU)

Agriculture to nutrition (ATONU): Improving Nutrition Outcomes through Optimized Agricultural Investments is a six-year project that is led by the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). Its consortium partners include Africa Innovations Institute (AFRII), Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Natural Resources Institute (NRI), Leverhulme centre for integrative research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), Farm Africa and Agribusiness Systems International (ASI).

ATONU sets out to answer the question of what agricultural programs can do to achieve positive nutrition outcomes. The objectives of ATONU include generating tools and frameworks for diagnosing the opportunities to incorporate tailored nutrition interventions into agriculture investments, offering technical assistance for designing, testing, and rigorously monitoring and evaluating results of the tailored nutrition interventions (proof of concept), documenting best practices and evidence and adding to the agriculture for nutrition knowledge base, advocating for evidence-based decision making at all levels and strengthening African capacity and building a community of practice in agriculture for improved nutrition.

Project Implementation

ATONU sets out to deliver positive nutrition outcomes through five pathways. The various interventions at each segment of the agricultural value chain, can be categorized into the five pathways:

  • Food production for household consumption;
  • Income-oriented production for food, health and other non-food items;
  • Empowerment of women as agents’ instrumental to household food security and health outcomes;
  • Reduction in real food prices associated with increased agricultural production;
  • Nutrition Sensitive Agricultural Growth – the indirect relationship between increasing agricultural productivity and nutrition outcomes through the agriculture sector’s contribution to national income and macro-economic growth.
  1. Use of ICTs to Understand the Relationships between Labor Saving Agricultural Innovations, Women’s Time Use and Maternal and Child Nutrition Outcomes

This newly adopted Project by AfrII is funded by the Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions project (IMMANA) led by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The project is focused on using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to understand the relationships between labor saving agricultural innovations, women’s time use and maternal and child nutrition outcomesThe project will run for 2 years from December 2016 to December 2018 under a collaboration between AfrII, Natural Resources Institute-University of Greenwich (NRI)-UK and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The overall aim of the project is to enhance the understanding of the impact of nutrition sensitive agriculture interventions on women and young children to ensure that they have a positive rather than a negative effect on maternal and child well-being. Specifically, the project will;

  • assess the feasibility of using a computerized inter-active voice response (IVR) dairy and a GPS linked wearable camera to assess women’s time use and maternal and infant dietary practices
  • determine the relative validity of each of these two methods via 15- hour direct observation; and compare it with traditional recall techniques
  • develop a framework of analysis for assessing the positive and negative impacts of alternative nutrition sensitive interventions, such as recommendations to increase the production and consumption of different foods and/or labor saving technologies on women’s status and wellbeing
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