West African nutrition professionals participate in inspiring short course on ‘Evidence for policies and programming’

By Namukolo Covic, IFPRI, CGIAR Research Programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

The Transform Nutrition West Africa project team from 18-22 March, 2019, hosted 32 nutrition professionals (19 females and 11 males) from 9 West African countries (Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo) for a 5-day course on “Evidence for Policy and Programming”. This was the second of a series of four nutrition leadership courses being held in West Africa, complementary to the first module on Leading change for nutrition conducted in November 2018.

The participants represented a diverse range of sectors such as policymakers, civil society professionals and practitioners and brought a rich wealth of experience and insights to the short course. The course focused on creating an awareness of the latest evidence on nutrition globally, by relating this to the West African context, leveraging the experience of the participants..

During the 5-day period, the nutrition professionals also had the opportunity to compile an evidence base, which will help inform transformational change in nutrition for their countries, or regionally for participants who work at the West African region level.

The Transform Nutrition West Africa project team provided an interactive learning environment by including exercises that aided the participants to conduct their own diagnosis of available evidence on nutrition based on immediate, underlying and basic drivers of malnutrition for their countries.  From this, the nutrition professionals developed presentations on the available evidence to help facilitate their work after the course.

The different countries present, were used as a basis to make comparisons between countries for lesson learning, through group presentations that allowed them to apply framing of the evidence gathered to their identified strategic areas of nutrition action. At the end of the training, participants were delighted and indicated a commitment to apply the knowledge and skills gained from the Evidence for Policy and Programming course.

“The short course on evidence for policy and programming opened my eyes to the immense gaps in the nutritional status among the different population across the continent reshaping my focus on addressing malnutrition. A multi-sectoral approach is the way to go! – Thank you Transform Nutrition West Africa for the great opportunity.” Bernice Worlali Kunutsor (Mrs), Public Health Nutritionist,  Deputy Regional Nutrition Officer, Ghana Health Service Volta Regional Health Directorate, Ghana

“It has been an amazing five-day experience for me at the Evidence for Policy and Programming course and I would recommend this to anyone in the nutrition and food systems space aspiring to contribute to end malnutrition and hunger in Africa. The training has empowered me to take nutrition advocacy to another level, through the insight given to us by the facilitators. The course exceeded my expectations as it explored themes that enlightened me into the possible areas of research for my PhD and I am convinced that with the networks I have made through this course, my dream of starting a PhD will materialize soon”  Abdul-Malik C. Abdul-Latif, Senior Nutrition Officer & QI Coach, Volta Regional Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service

This course made an impact on my work ethics. I became aware  of different sources of data available and how they can be used to inform my decision making and programming in nutrition. I am truly pleased to have attended this course. It was a valuable effort.” Rakiya Idris, Chief Nutrition Officer, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja Nigeria.

The Transform Nutrition West Africa team extends its gratitude to all the participants who came prepared to work very hard for 5 days and to the many conveners and facilitators including:

Nick Nisbett and Inka Barnett, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Stuart Gillespie, Namukolo Covic, Roos Verstraeten, Loty Diop, Mariama Touré, Daniel Simpa and Maame Darkwaa, IFPRI
Richmond Aryeetey, University of Ghana
Michael Ojo, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Nigeria
Michelle Holdsworth, University of Sheffield, UK