A multi-stakeholder forum comprising representatives from County departments of Health and Agriculture, CBOs and CSOs attended a two-day workshop from yesterday to discuss the planned interventions for Kisumu Food System Lab with a bias on nutrition education awareness within the informal settlements, convened by Alliance Biodiversity International and CIAT under the project Healthy Food Africa.
The forum held at the Vitoria Suites Hotel in Kisumu, also provided a platform to share ideas, highlight opportunities and challenges in the implementation in order to align visions towards achieving the project goal.
The project dubbed Healthy Food Africa is an international research and innovative initiative, which aims at improving nutrition in Africa by strengthening the diversity, sustainability, resilience and connectivity of food systems.
It is funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 intends to make food systems in 10 African cities in six countries more sustainable, equitable, and resilient by reconnecting food production and food consumption on effective ways through the Food Systems Labs in East, West and Southern Africa of which Nairobi and Kisumu cities in Kenya are part.
The County Director for Fisheries, Madam Susan Claire Adhiambo who represented the CECM Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Mr. Gilchrist Okuom while officially opening the workshop said she was pleased that the program was on course spearheaded by Alliance Biodiversity International and CIAT.
She further outlined other projects in Kisumu County funded by European Union Horizon 2020, which include Vicin Aqua, Food land and Practice.
The Director noted that Kisumu County is open to new ideas from development partners through collaborations.
“The County currently runs a number of programs dealing in food systems like ABDP, FAO and KSCAP; hence there is need for synergy to avoid duplication of roles.” Said the Director.
She pledged support for the program by ensuring it achieves the intended goal.
The human nutritionist and economics scientist from ABC Dr. Irmgard Jordan, one of the moderators in her introductory remarks said the focus is to link culture, nutrition, trade, marketing and value chains.
She noted that the prospective the Alliance is taking is the use of food systems approach and not production or value approach.
Dr. Irmgard said the objective of the two-day workshop is to look into nutrition education and see how best to link the various aspects of food systems to enhance food consumption.
Consolata Musita who was also one of the moderators from ABC in her highlights about the project said they are keen on using the food systems lab; a localized context -specific food systems spaces for experimentation and innovation
She explained that lab will be used to test different innovations, pilot different innovations and implementation to see what works and what does not hence learn best practices from different food systems lab to scale up.
The focus she stated is in the 4 informal settlements in Kisumu: Manyatta A, Manyatta B, Obunga and Bandani and that they are working on two value chains namely fish and African Leafy vegetables with an aim of promoting sustainable production of the same to feed the people.
Consolata added that they also intend to carry out a lot of behaviour change communication on nutrition education to create demand for the production, and to improve efficiency and functioning value chain through market linkages such as linking kitchen gardeners to seed bank in Vihiga.
The alliance is also focused on enhancing urban gardening, aquaponics systems, novel food products and nutrition education with the goal of linking production to consumption.
She said the Alliance did a baseline survey in the 4 informal settlements between February and March this year to assess the situation on the ground before implementation.
While giving the report on the preliminary findings she stated that the study focused on two issues, Consumer study of which the objective was to assess the dietary situation in the four informal settlements and Environmental study to address the food environment situation to find out what foods are available, the vendors and see the linkage results with consumer study. This affects the consumer behaviour because some people eat only what is available.
More Presentations were made on food security situation in Kisumu by the coordinator in charge of nutrition from Health department where Monica Wanjiru highlighted on the importance of nutrition and health thus by improving nutrition and health, there is transformation of consumption patterns towards a healthy diet. She also explained how KCNAP provides for a multi- sectoral intervention on nutrition to help reduce high levels of malnutrition which is a public health concern and a hindrance to achieving the county and county’s development agenda.
The County ABDP Coordinator, Mr. Kenneth Luga also used the platform to outline some of the activities the program is focusing on to increase the incomes, food security and nutritional status of the wider communities of poor rural households involved in aquaculture in the targeted Counties. Adding that the overall objective and goal of ABDP he said is to reduce poverty and increase food security and nutrition in rural communities, as by improved dietary diversity though different activities and initiatives like kitchen gardening and poultry keeping.
The Agri- nutrition Officer, Madam Rose Owenga highlighted on the production aspects by outlining the common foods that are produced in Kisumu yet the production is still below the expectation or has not attain the full potential.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Liaison Officer Mr. Erick Ogadho presented on the urban Food systems project programs being carried out in Kisumu targeting the urban and the peri urban on urban food production both for consumption and income
While the KSCAP, was represented by Mr.Kevin Kanywera who said the project aims at increasing agricultural productivity and building resilience to climate change risks in targeted small holder farming. They deal in three value chains: Sorghum, Cassava and chicken and that they support farmers with extension services and infrastructure such as water pans.
Day two of the workshop was mainly group discussions; a deep delve into existing nutrition education materials with a focus on the target population, finding out if the materials strategies target women of productive age and children 6-23 months, lessons learnt, how and where they are implemented, does the content materials address the major issues on nutrition challenges affecting the target group in the project site.
The open plenary was used to give feedback on the findings of the review on the nutrition materials, creating key messages and slogans. This would go along way in informing those preparing the content of the IEC materials and also guide on the best channels and media to pass the information.
The session ended with a work plan drawn to assign roles and responsibilities and to allow additional thoughts that can enrich the report.
By: Emily Mikwa