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Food Security and Nutrition | SANREM

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Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Africa
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Food Security and Nutrition

SANREM Focus On Sustainable Food Security and Nutrition

We focus on regional countries where food insecurity and malnutrition are most pronounced. We initiate actions and discussion on current trends in food and nutrition security, explore immediate and long-term challenges, and present the case for why agriculture is central to improving nutrition.

SANREM asserts that Agriculture, food security and Nutrition plays a key role in increasing food availability and incomes, supporting livelihoods and contributing to the overall economy, and is thus central to improving food and nutrition security.


SANREM Focus Projects are in the areas of:

  • Agricultural extension services that offer communities information and improved input such as seed and cultivar for better crop diversity and biodiversity;
  • Integrated agro-forestry systems that reduce deforestation and promote harvesting of nutrient-rich forest products;
  • Aquaculture and small livestock ventures that include indigenous as well as farmed species; education and social marketing strategies that strengthen local food systems and promote cultivation and consumption of local micronutrient rich foods;
  • Biofortifi cation via research and development programmes that breed plants and livestock selectively to enhance nutritional quality;
  • Reduction of post-harvest losses via improved handling, preservation, storage, preparation and processing techniques.


How SANREM assesses Agriculture’s role in improving food and Nutrition security 

  • Pro-poor food production systems:

Providing direct support to rural smallholder production and urban and periurban food systems to expand, enhance and sustain people’s ability to procure and use the amount and variety of food required to be active and healthy.

  • Environmental sustainability:

 Improving agricultural production practices to address environmental concerns such as biodiversity, sustainable use of resources, and livestock sector reform.

  • Community-based capacity building to improve nutrition:

Strengthening local food systems and promoting education and social marketing efforts that encourage balanced diets.

  • Setting higher standards in foreign direct investment:

Developing regulatory frameworks to promote responsible foreign direct investment in agriculture and in food production, processing and marketing, in order to improve food and nutrition security, either directly through higher quality local food sources or indirectly via increased purchasing power

  • Creating an enabling environment to fight hunger and malnutrition

Address environmental, socioeconomic, health, demographic and political challenges, including climate change, demand for biofuel, gender inequity, prevalence of HIV and other infectious diseases, population growth, urbanization, and political instability. Climate change can affect food and nutrition security


SANREM Food Security Monitoring Systems and the Process of Decision Making                                              

Developing Local, National, Regional Early Warning Systems

The main functions of our systems include: “… collecting, analyzing and interpreting crop, livestock, and agro-meteorological data, early forecasting of the main food crops production situation, identifying surplus and deficit areas to guide seasonal marketing operations; carrying out pre- and post-harvest crops assessments; collaborating with other government and non-governmental organizations and institutions to generate appropriate early warning information and networking with regional and international early warning centers to foster information exchange and use. …..”

Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS)

SANREM FEWS systems carry out vulnerability assessments in the East African region. The objective of the FEWS projects is to provide timely information on impending food shortages that result from disasters like drought, and to warn policy and decision makers, along with donors of the need to assess famine threats and plan assistance accordingly. SANREM FEWS systems identify populations and areas within the region where disruptions in food availability and accessibility are likely to have the greatest effect on food security. It also carries out vulnerability assessments to identify populations with risk of food insecurity, taking into consideration food availability and accessibility both at the national and regional levels. Our FEWS reports contain information on agro-climatic conditions, crop production, pasture and livestock, food stocks and markets.

Evaluating FEWS

In the region, there is much interest from the government and international donor agencies to generate food security information and to use the information for planning better policies and intervention programs. However, the contribution of the information generated to decision making processes continues to be weak. Too often, externally funded and designed food security monitoring systems focus primarily on data collection and only secondary attention is given to the use of information for decision making. As a result, the impact of the information produced on decision making has often been negligible. This is further compounded by inadequate co-ordination among information generators and the resulting difficulties in creating effective demand for the food security information from the decision makers. These are but a few of the issues that pose a challenge to the sustainability of food security monitoring systems in the region. Evaluation of food security monitoring systems provides insights into these challenges and helps to re-orient the objectives towards the changing needs for information by policy decision makers.


SANREM Joint Program in Promoting Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security

SANREM promotes increased production, availability and utilization of micronutrient-rich foods among women and children in east Africa and beyond. SANREM works with communities to increase production, availability and utilization of micronutrient-rich foods through home gardening, aquaculture and small livestock will support:


  • Establishment of small-scale livestock and aquaculture systems and support access to veterinary services
  • Home garden establishment and support. Development of household food production systems integrating aquaculture, small-livestock and agriculture, when possible.
  • Link household food production activities with nutrition education in schools
  • Increase capacity of farmers in GAP in production of law materials for fortified food production
  • Training and promotion of production of local food products from small scale farmers for use in fortified blended foods
  • Promotion of home gardening for improved production and utilization of fruits and vegetables
  • Training and promotion of small scale livestock production and aquaculture for increased household consumption and income opportunity



SANREMS Approach to Agricultural Research and Innovation for Development

SANREM program seeks to harness the power of Agricultural research to provide solutions that lead to reduced poverty and hunger, and to make an effective contribution to sustainable agriculture, nutrition and resilience in developing countries. This we do through:


  • Delivering impact on food security, nutrition, poverty reduction, or resilience goals, consistent with the development policies of the EU.
  • Seeking more active involvement of farmers, particularly (women) smallholders, decision makers, and civil society in defining priorities and in engaging in research and innovation;
  • focusing primarily on the food and nutrition needs of poor families, women and children and on socially excluded groups It aims to use natural resources efficiently and sustainably, while minimizing any negative environmental impact;
  • Including a realistic vision of how it will translate into the expected development outcomes and impacts (e.g. impact pathways, theory of change, results chain, etc.)
  • Seeking synergies and linkages with national agriculture policies, strategies in developing countries and with rural development programmes and projects.


Our Strategic cross-cutting issues in all our activities include:

  • Gender and pro-poor focus
  • Climate change
  • Supporting activities: extension,
  • knowledge management,
  • Capacity building


SANREMS Principles on Food Security and Nutrition

  • Promoting a rights-based approach

The right to adequate food is a human right. A rights-based approach integrates the norms, standards and principles of the international human rights into the plans, policies and processes of development cooperation. This requires a change in perspective: target groups must become rights holders rather than merely the beneficiaries of aid. Building their capacities to address the root causes of food and nutrition security problems must become a central element of interventions. Additionally, We will support partner organizations and civil society to advocate and lobby for appropriate access to income and resources, market transparency, and for food quality and safety standards.

  • Bridging the link between nutrition and agriculture by implementing nutrition-sensitive programmes

Agricultural advances can provide more and better quality food, as well as income, however, this does not automatically result in improved nutrition for individuals and households. There is a missing link between improved agriculture and nutritional outcomes at house­hold level. Bridging this gap through the promotion of nutrition-sensitive agricultural production will contribute to adequate and appropriate household food consumption and increased income for the purchase of nutritious food and health services. This may eventually support improved women’s health, education and social status, as well as improving family caring capacities

  • Promoting ‘nutrition security’ through behavior change

Experience suggests that positive nutritional outcomes can only be achieved when people access more and better food, as well as change their attitudes and practices towards improved nutritional behavior. Sound knowledge of the cultural aspects, barriers and drivers for food consumption habits, food and water handling, hygiene practices and health seeking behavior are critical for successful nutrition programming. Better nutritional knowledge is also essential, though not in itself sufficient, for people to change their attitudes and practices to overcome malnutrition (both under nutrition and over nutrition). Motivational and impeding factors must be analyzed and the individual understanding of the personal benefits of a change in behavior is crucial. We will promote good practices and demonstrate how to use food adequately, creating active, systematic networks and a knowledge management approach for SFNS within civil society organizations, line ministries and above all, with individuals.

  • Linking the multiple dimensions of food and nutrition security with sustainability

In order to generate tangible and sustainable improvements in food and nutrition security, regional and country programmes must consider and integrate all four dimensions of SFNS (i.e. availability, access, use / utilization and stability) and address the underlying and basic causes of malnutrition through long-term interventions. This includes an integrated approach across sectors and in close coordination with other stakeholders, organizations and institutions, including private sector where appropriate. In circumstances where social and economic shocks are frequent, short-term interventions implemented as an immediate response must strongly link to long-term outcomes.

  • Empowering women for food and nutrition security

The social status of women and their education levels are the most crucial determinants of malnutrition in children. Women are usually the main caretakers for the family, especially for young children. They play a major role in agricultural production, food processing and food preparation. Yet women themselves are often subject to malnutrition due to their physiological and social vulnerability. The Global Hunger Index 2009 showed that high rates of hunger and malnutrition tend to go hand in hand with gender inequality in areas such as economic participation, education, political empowerment and health. Evidence shows that lower levels of hunger are associated with higher literacy rates and access to education for women. Reducing gender disparities in key areas, particularly in education and health, is thus essential to reducing levels of malnutrition and hunger

  • Strengthening the resilience of communities

Measures to adapt to climate change and the promotion of early warning and disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies may also contribute to strengthening people’s resilience against natural disasters such as floods, thunderstorms, landslides and others. All SFNS interventions should thus be designed to strengthen adaptation capacities and the resilience of communities.


SANREM Goals to Achieving Food Security and Nutrition

  • We reward resource-based productivity improvements as a direct contributor to Climate change effectiveness
  • SANREM encourages productivity improvements – in a sustainable way – on existing agricultural land to avoid additional land clearing and give priority to the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural soils.
  • SANREM recognizes the positive contribution of sustainable land management practices through increased coordinated agricultural research.
  • We include robust methodologies and field-testing to overcome uncertainties around measurement, reporting and verification.
  • We provide incentives to farmers and other stakeholders which reward adoption of sustainable and responsible production systems, better performing technologies and the efforts of early adopters.
  • SANREM invests in capability sharing to encourage all farmers to play a role in climate change while safeguarding local and global food security
  • We enhance capacity building to implement sustainable land management policies and programmes.
  • SANREM helps organizations to create a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture accessible to farmers’ organizations in developing countries.
  • We foster agricultural extension and advisory services that will help farmers adapt and will also be able to report on-the-ground experiences of farmers.


SANREMS best Interventions:

More Food at the Household Level: Diversified and Sustainable Agricultural Production for better Nutrition

  • Invest in women: safeguard and strengthen the capacity of women to provide food security, health and nutrition to their families
  • Promote local production, processing and storage of nutrient rich food
  • Increase all year-round availability of nutrient-rich food
  • Improve nutritional knowledge among rural households to enhance their dietary diversity (crops, fruits, vegetables and Animal Source Food
  • Promote the adoption of adequate food preparation and feeding practices
  • Incorporate explicit nutrition outcomes, objectives and indicators into agricultural project and policy designs


Investments in Smallholder Agriculture – Potentials for Sustainability and Nutrition

Social Protection through Cash Transfer and Voucher Programmes

Recent evaluations suggest that when poor households receive cash transfers, their additional cash is mainly used for household food expenses, which improve the family’s diet. However, cash transfer programmes need to be linked with nutrition and health elements, such as education, training, or other basic health facilities, in order to sustainably improve food intake, diet diversification and hygiene practices.

Adequate Food Quality and Safety

Food safety is concerned with handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. Food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food hygiene during storage, food additives and pesticide residues. In considering market to consumer practices, food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.


Ways in SANREM intends to Achieve food security in the Face of climate change

  • Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into regional and national policies
  • Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade
  • Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture
  • Develop specific programmes and policies to assist populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate changes and food insecurity
  • Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating patterns worldwide
  • Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits
  • Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions

Fig 1: This farmer in Nyando, Kisumu County Kenya, harvests and stores water from the roof of her house and runoff using simple innovations. This enables her to grow crops all-year-round for household nutrition and for sale. She also grows fodder and grass to feed the livestock and uses banana leaves and other foliage to mulch and fertilize the soil besides animal residue manure. These improvements result from research supported by SANREM which receives funding from HIVOS.



Fig 2:  A small holders’ farm with diversified crops in western Kenya supported by funding from HIVOS and implemented by SANREM



Fig 3: A small holder farmer in western Kenya as an example of sustainable intensification