Blog: IGNITE brings Local Service Providers together for a week of learning and collaboration.
The Impacting Gender and Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) program supports African agricultural institutions to integrate nutrition and mainstream gender into their agriculture interventions, policy priorities, and business practices. Implemented by Tanager, Laterite and 60 Decibels, IGNITE is working in four African countries (Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Nigeria) and with 11 institutions (5 private companies, 1 Government agency and 5 NGOs). The program has three main objectives:
- Strengthen African agricultural institutional capacity to mainstream gender and integrate nutrition through technical assistance.
- Identify key mechanisms and drivers of demand for the scale up and replication of models that work for gender mainstreaming and nutrition integration within agriculture investments
- Identify and build a network of local service providers (LSP’s) within the four focus countries to scale gender and nutrition technical assistance approaches.
In the last four years, IGNITE clients report positive changes from working with IGNITE. These changes include increased leadership buy-in, increased allocation of dedicated human resources and budgets towards supporting gender mainstreaming and nutrition integration, increased staff awareness and capacity, and positive changes in the integration of gender and nutrition in programmatic activities. IGNITE has also forged partnerships with four LSPs – Fair & Sustainable in Ethiopia, Nafaka Kilimo in Tanzania, PanAfricare in Burkina Faso, and Centre for Gender Economics in Nigeria to scale IGNITE’s approach. In early March, IGNITE hosted 12 staff members representing the technical experts from the four LSPs.
The partnerships with these four LSPs across the four countries is vital for IGNITE to achieve its sustainability objectives. LSPs present an opportunity to scale IGNITE’s approaches for gender and nutrition technical assistance to achieve longer term sustainability of the program outcomes with our clients and build the capacity of local institutions as providers of long-term technical assistance support.
Our partnership with Tanzanian LSP Nafaka Kilimo combines Tanager and our parent company ACDIVOCA’s core mission of creating longer term sustainable economic change. Through the partnership with Nafaka Kilimo, IGNITE will build on their local footprint in Tanzania of providing services within the agriculture sector including research, technological innovation, business development, and capacity strengthening. Tanager will then compliment these services with gender and nutrition technical assistance. IGNITE will also invest in strengthening Nafaka Kilimo staff capacity on gender and nutrition as an institution by sharing tools and resources developed within the program. IGNITE will offer coaching, mentorship, and peer learning across the technical teams. The same model will apply to our other LSPs in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. During the project period, LSPs will deliver IGNITE services to clients alongside the technical expert teams. It is expected that by the end of the IGNITE project period, LSPs will offer gender and nutrition technical support to IGNITE clients and other agricultural institutions within their spheres of influence.
IGNITE organized a five-day capacity building week for all LSPs – the first in-person training with LSPs since onboarding them virtually in March 2021. The main goals for the week included: 1) Provide an opportunity for the IGNITE technical team to meet and connect with their peers in the four countries (human connections that make delivering technical assistance possible and something that the COVID-19 pandemic had limited); 2) Provide an opportunity to appreciate the different levels of technical capacities within the LSPs teams and; 3) Facilitate a Trainer of Trainer approach to build LSP capacity on the gender mainstreaming and nutrition sensitive agriculture approaches and tools that IGNITE has developed and is implementing with our clients. The week also focused on a deep-dive practical training by doing of the IGNITE diagnostic assessment and provide a networking opportunity across our LSPs to share and connect and share experiences in delivering gender and nutrition technical support.
The week began with IGNITE Gender 101 which introduced gender concepts, approaches, and strategies to achieve gender equality. Teams participated in self-reflection sessions on how gender presents itself in the different contexts and the connection between gender and nutrition. Similarly, IGNITE Nutrition 101 introduced nutrition basics, such malnutrition and food security, and looked at what approaches work in different contexts. The use of group work, case studies, and experience sharing ensured that all participants brought their country contexts to the various discussions. The team also had the opportunity to pilot a full diagnostic of a local institution in Kenya using one of IGNITE’s free, open-source tools. This process entailed document review, analysis of a staff survey, customizing guides and conducting interviews with staff, and scoring the institution along the gender and nutrition spectrum. This experience ensured that each of our LSPs can support client diagnostics in their respective countries and offer the same support to other organizations beyond IGNITE clients. IGNITE will continue to build their capacities as they deliver the technical assistance to our clients in the coming two years.
Although our team pivoted well to virtual trainings during COVID-19 restrictions, it was very valuable to meet with LSP staff in person. IGNITE can only be a sustainable movement if those of us working on the program have a chance to meet and learn from each other – discuss what is working, what is not, and how we can constantly improve our approaches. This focus on transparency and the sharing of learnings guides Tanager’s work across our portfolio – from Burkina Faso to India to across the African continent. Only when we are open with each other as development professionals can we truly deliver on our mission to co-create life changing economic and social opportunities for the communities that need them most.