IGNITE Takes the Next Step in Building a Network of African Agricultural Institutions Advancing Gender and Nutrition Integration

Consumption of healthy diets, as well as ensuring women’s access to and control over household resources, is pivotal to the attainment of food and nutrition security. Traditionally, many agricultural interventions were focused on increasing food production to reduce malnutrition, hunger, and poverty. Despite increased production, however, nutritional health has not improved at the same pace as agricultural output. And while women make up the largest percentage of the agricultural workforce, they do not participate in the formal economy at the same rate as men. This lowers productivity and leads to social and economic inequality.

Malnutrition and gender inequality have devastating consequences for businesses and economies. In Africa, for example, total productivity losses resulting from malnutrition amount to US$26.8 billion, according to a 2022 African Union continental report on the cost of hunger. Tackling gender inequalities in agrifood systems will reduce hunger, boost economic growth, and reinforce resilience to climate shocks.

Tanager is addressing these issues through its Impacting Gender & Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) project, which supports African agricultural institutions in integrating gender and nutrition into their business practices and agricultural interventions. Working with Local Service Providers (LSPs), we have been successfully co-delivering technical assistance on gender and nutrition to 19 clients across four countries.

IGNITE has also designed a set of tools to aid clients—who comprise private sector actors, research organizations, development partners, and governments—in their efforts. These include:

Through our interventions in monitoring, evaluation, and learning, we have further assisted clients in collecting sex-disaggregated to improve program oversight and better communicate the impact of their work.

As a result, IGNITE clients have made tremendous gains in the past four years in integrating gender and nutrition into their internal policies and business practices, fostering deep sector-wide transformation.

Ethiopia Gender & Nutrition Learning and Networking Forum

As part of our efforts, IGNITE has been cultivating a network of agricultural institutions at the nexus of gender and nutrition in its focus countries.  The goal: to promote IGNITE learnings, models, and tools through the sharing of best practices and to establish sustainable partnerships that advocate and advance for gender mainstreaming and nutrition-sensitive agricultural approaches.

IGNITE will launch these country-specific Gender and Nutrition Learning and Networking Forums in the coming months, starting with Ethiopia. This inaugural forum will be held on 17th August 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in collaboration with local implementing partner, Fair & Sustainable.  Under the theme, “Building a network to advance gender and nutrition integration in agriculture,” the forum will provide a platform for stakeholders to share best practices on integrating gender and nutrition and drive impactful agricultural development.

In Ethiopia, IGNITE has been supporting the following institutions to integrate gender and nutrition into their work:

African Union (PACA)

The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) is an African Union initiative mandated to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by mitigating aflatoxin. High levels of aflatoxins in Africa’s staple foods remain a barrier to food security, nutrition, health, and trade.

IGNITE assisted PACA in conducting gender analysis in 12 countries— Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, and Zambia,

“We are working with 12 additional countries. The work that our program officers are leading in these 12 countries has gender front and center in evidence generation and hopefully also in the national plans on food safety that the countries will be developing and validating. There is a huge difference between what we have been doing in the pilot phase without IGNITE and what we are now doing during the scaling phase with the support of IGNITE.” PACA

Digital Green

Agricultural extension services in Ethiopia have predominantly targeted men who are considered family heads.  Through the Digital Agricultural Advisory Services (DAAS) program, Digital Green, in partnership with Precision Development aims to close the gender gap by using digital technologies to transmit customized information to farmers based on their farm needs.

IGNITE assisted the DAAS program in developing its gender strategy, revising existing monitoring and evaluation tools to gather and analyze sex-disaggregated data, and increasing staff awareness on the importance of gender and nutrition integration.  Our latest research findings have provided Digital Green with a significant understanding of digital dairy farmers’ experiences with Interactive Voice Response on mobile phones and men’s and women’s perceptions of video-mediated approaches and women-only groups.

“We have adopted new strategies and approaches, such as gender equality as a cost-cutting enabler and self-help groups, which hopefully increase female participation.” Digital Green

Sasakawa Africa Association

Sasakawa Africa Association empowers rural smallholder farmers along value chains to adopt good agricultural practices and digital technologies that lead to food and nutrition security.

Thanks to IGNITE intervention, gender and nutrition-sensitive agriculture is now a strategic priority pillar in Sasakawa’s new strategic plan, with an allocated budget to inform its programmatic activities. Sasakawa has also mobilized gender and nutrition champions in its country operations in Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda, to ensure alignment within its programmatic processes.

“At the household level, we’re … training women on nutrition awareness while putting more focus on bringing in more women, youth, and persons with disabilities to be part of all the interventions we offer.” Sasakawa

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)

The national research institute develops market-competitive agricultural technologies that contribute to agricultural productivity and nutrition security. IGNITE supported EIAR by providing a technical review in the development of the EIAR gender and nutrition strategy as well as its monitoring and evaluation approach.

“We decided to include the nutrition and gender issues from proposal development to our outputs. In all these value chains, we are going to include these two components.” EIAR

Join our Gender and Nutrition Network

IGNITE seeks to support agricultural institutions to mainstream gender and nutrition across all stages of the food value chain rather than as a standalone intervention.  Through our local networks, we invite stakeholders to share and learn from our experiences, and collectively mobilize resources, expertise, and knowledge to promote increased incomes and better nutrition outcomes for rural communities throughout the continent.

To join the network, contact us at Kenyainfo@tanagerintl.org