Blog: Exploring Gender and Nutrition Technical Assistance Sustainability
Tanager organised the Impacting Gender & Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) Local Service Providers (LSPs) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 17th to 19th October 2022. Around 40 participants from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania attended the event. The discussions were focused on the sustainability of the Technical Assistance delivery of the IGNITE mechanism by the Local Service Providers (LSPs) to integrate gender and nutrition in agriculture programs in Africa.
The gender, nutrition and agriculture nexus
Women play an essential role in rural development and sustainable agriculture, and yet they face great inequalities at all levels starting from access to land, to having equal opportunities and equal pay. When addressing the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture, the different roles that they play in the food systems should be considered and recognised. These roles vary from producers, processors, entrepreneurs, retailers, leaders and consumers, among others. And each of these roles are linked to nutrition – their own and that of their family. “Gender and nutrition are not side issues, but at the core and integral to the sustainability of food systems. When we work with women, the whole family wins. There is better nutrition for the family, better education for the children and better decision making in the household,” shared Shelly Sundberg, Interim Deputy Director for Gender & Nutrition Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during her remarks at the IGNITE LSPs Summit.
Tanager’s response through IGNITE
Impacting Gender & Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) is a five-year investment mechanism providing Technical Assistance (TA) to African agriculture institutions to mainstream gender and nutrition in their way of doing business. The IGNITE mechanism was launched in 2019 and is implemented by Tanager, Laterite, and 60 Decibels in four countries, which are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. IGNITE clients currently include the public sector, private sector and NGOs. “We work at two levels. Firstly, at the level of institutional strengthening, but also at the programmatic level, where we look at the interventions that they design,” explained Maureen Munjua, Tanager Country Representative (Kenya) and IGNITE Team Leader. As the IGNITE mechanism is approaching its fifth year of implementation, different stakeholders, including the IGNITE project team, the LSPs, some clients and donors were gathered at the IGNITE LSPs Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 17th to 19th October 2022 to discuss on the progress made and on the sustainability of the gender and nutritionTechnical Assistance delivery to agricultural institutions.
Building on progress and paving the sustainability pathway
The LSPs of IGNITE were selected through a call of expression of interest. They are: PanAfricare in Burkina Faso, Fair and Sustainable in Ethiopia, Center for Gender Economics Initiative in Nigeria and NAFAKA Kilimo in Tanzania. Each of these institutions continues to receive capacity building support from IGNITE on gender and nutrition integration in agriculture, and they, in turn, use the tools co-created by IGNITE mechanism and the skills acquired through the support of IGNITE to offer the service to other clients. “First of all, the capacity of our own team on gender, nutrition, monitoring and evaluation was strengthened by IGNITE. We were also trained on how to use the diagnostic tools and training modules developed by IGNITE. Following that, we were able to provide Technical Assistance to IGNITE clients on gender and nutrition. These clients include some farmer organisations and micro-finance institutions in Burkina Faso,” shared Hubert Badiel, Country Director of PanAfricare in Burkina Faso. In Ethiopia, one of the IGNITE clients is following their engagement with IGNITE through the Local Service Provider, Fair and Sustainable, and are working towards increasing women participation in farmer groups. “When working with mixed farmers groups, out of 25 groups, we used to find only 3-5 women. Through IGNITE, an assessment on gender integration was done, gaps were identified and training provided to our team. We are now targeting to reach 40% of women in the farmer groups we work with,” explained the client.
Experience sharing and learning
For the four LSPs of the IGNITE mechanism, the Summit in Addis Ababa was a great opportunity to learn from each other, share experiences and come up with ideas and strategies to package the IGNITE mechanism as a service for potential clients involved in the agricultural sector. According to Uchenna Idoko, Executive Director of the Center for Gender Economics Initiative, their organisation was already working on gender, nutrition and agriculture. IGNITE brought a whole new perspective on the nutrition aspect that made them realise that they can have many more programs and opportunities created for women all across the agricultural value chain, not just at farm level. And they find this to be a great opportunity. At NAFAKA Kilimo, IGNITE’s LSP in Tanzania, they believe that following the capacity building support received from the IGNITE mechanism, their team is now ready to offer the service to clients. “Our team already has the technical know-how, meaning that we are going to use the same technical know-how as IGNITE to strengthen the capacities of agricultural institutions in our country and region. We already have two IGNITE clients that we have planned to support after this Summit”, explained Iddi Kindamba, Chief Executive Officer of NAFAKA Kilimo.
With a couple of months to go before the end of the IGNITE mechanism, the LSPs Summit has provided the IGNITE team with many elements to continue the capacity building work with the LSPs and package the IGNITE Technical Assistance as a service for integrating gender and nutrition to agriculture institutions. The aim is also to go beyond the 4 countries of focus of IGNITE, as some of the LSPs have representation in other African countries and regions. In addition, going forward, the Local Service Providers (LSPs) will be more involved in the identification of the clients and managing them. “I see a lot of potential in the next one and a half years of which IGNITE is remaining, to critically think through with the LSPs and bring them along into the delivery of these services. We will be in pilot mode to test out what sustainability looks like, what is the demand that we are seeing, who can pay for it and what it could look like,” shared Maureen Munjua, Tanager Country Representative (Kenya) and IGNITE Team Leader.