Sharing and learning forum on the nexus between nutrition and gender

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo

Sensitization forum
IFAD-funded project managers
From 2-5 November, the Government of Zambia and IFAD's East and Southern African (ESA) division organized a workshop on the "Nexus between Nutrition and Gender" in IFAD investments.

The purpose of the workshop that took place in Livingstone, Zambia  was to consolidate efforts towards operationalization of nutrition mainstreaming and advocacy on nutrition-sensitive agriculture with a gender lens.

The event brought together nutrition officers at district and headquarter levels, extension workers, gender focal points and staff of IFAD-funded programmes and projects, government staff in ministries of Agriculture Fisheries and Livestock.

Thanks to the participation and representation of IFAD-funded projects from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, representatives of UN agencies, National Food and Nutrition Commissions, NGOs, Civil Societies and other development partners, the event benefitted from a good sub-regional outlook on the above mentioned issues.

Sharing of experiences
Country managers of the IFAD-funded programme proudly shed light on their experiences on mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture and rural development interventions.

Mr Kwibisa, the programme manager of Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (SAPP) in Zambia stressed the importance of ensuring that nutrition programmes invest in a wide variety of nutritious commodity as he believes this will help to raise awareness about the importance of mainstreaming nutrition in development initiatives. He indicated that investing in small-livestock, beans, groundnuts, cassava and beef has led to a dietary diversity and as a result family diets in the programme areas improved drastically.  

According to Martin Liywalii, the programme manager of Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme (S3P) in Zambia increasing food production and productivity is necessary to have good nutrition activities. He further reiterated that provided there is an integrated approach to nutrition mainstreaming there is no "side-effect" if programme interventions are also focused to increase sales.

His story was quite informative, as it showed that even if an investment programme may not have a nutrition focus at design, during implementation it is indeed possible to rectify this omission. What S3P did was to include nutrition-related activities during the programme mid-term review and make inclusion of nutrition compulsory for the programme implementers.

Learning from others
Participants expressed their zeal to acquire knowledge on the nexus of nutrition and gender issues. “The lessons that others shared at this workshop are most useful for us as they allow us to improve our efforts to mainstream nutrition in Mozambique programmes”, said Maria Arraes De Souza.

Karen Mukuka, the assistant nutrition officer in the Zambia ministry of Agriculture was interested to learn from her Malawi counterpart how nutrition activities were coordinated among and between the various ministries.

Working collaboratively
The Resident Coordinator, UN-Zambia and
the IFAD Country Director, Zambia
The call to work together resonated fully with the workshop participants.

Janet Rogan, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia in her remarks underscored the fact that nutrition is front and centre on the Global Goals agenda – better known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She challenged the participants to work differently, complement each other’s work and to break the “silos.” Furthermore, she asked the participants to continuously measure the impact of their development work and encouraged them to involve people so that they do not leave anyone behind.

Bertha Muthinta, the representative from Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) in Zambia highlighted the similarity between IFAD's and INGENAES work. She called for joining hands in an effort to achieve more impact on nutrition-related investments. Similarly, Maria Dieci the representative from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) underscored the challenges of evaluation, tracking nutrition impact and scaling up nutrition actions in rural development programmes. She expressed IPA's willingness to collaborate with interested partners.

As the event came to an end, the participants had an opportunity to do some group work on action planning for a strategic approach to mainstream nutrition and gender in their respective programmes. They were encouraged to further adapt the action plans according to their various country programmes, as doing so would translate in contributing to achieve the targets of SDG2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.