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Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being

Theme E:  The food security and nutrition impacts of policies and programmes

The aim of this theme is to provide strategic evidence-based guidance on food security and nutrition impact of national and regional policies and programmes to support self-reflection, learning, dissemination of best practice and influence policy reform and strategic planning in Africa. 

This will includes a focus on:
• Identification of policy instruments for managing risk to promote household food security (availability, access and diversification of consumption) and sustainable livelihoods. 
• Promoting nutrition-sensitive value chains
• Traceability mechanisms in value chains to manage food safety, origin and quality
• Providing practical models for social protection
• Monitoring and evaluation of impact

In addition, the research team for this theme will provide guidance, input and impact assessment for the other components of the institute with regard to the above four areas to assist in ensuring significant impact of the various themes and projects on food safety and security; nutrition and well-being. 

E1:  Rationale for the Theme
The Comprehensive Africa Development Programme (CAADP) provides Africa with a framework for achieving these goals but considerable policy support is needed in-country and across the Regional Economic Commissions.  Empirically based evidence for influencing policy reform is lacking and monitoring and evaluation systems are still based on agronomic and food balance systems.  These ignore the need to understand the impact of policies and programmes on intended beneficiaries and comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of the multiple facets of food security. Identification of policy instruments for managing risk to promote household food security (availability, access and diversification of consumption) and sustainable livelihoods will provide timely and much needed support in the African transformation agenda.  Providing strategic evidence-based guidance on food security and nutrition impact of national and regional policies and programmes will support self-reflection, learning, dissemination of best practice and influence policy reform and strategic planning in Africa. 

A special focus on price volatility and the transmission of price hikes to consumers are emerging areas of research internationally.  Very little is understood regarding the drivers of volatility and the impact on rural households and smallholders.  While higher prices are good news for farmers, reduced purchasing power affects consumption behaviour among consumers and ultimately affects nutrition and well-being.   

Two areas of neglect will supplement this research agenda in promoting nutrition-sensitive value chains and providing practical models for social protection.  Both are new areas of focus in Africa and for which little information on appropriate models, strategy options and best practice exists.  A special focus on food safety and the regulatory and legislative issues that acts of constraints/barriers and also protect consumer health will be considered.  There is a great deal of focus on the development of agricultural value chains, but very little thought has been put into how such development can contribute to much needed broad-based development, bring the most poor into the growth agenda and address crucial nutrition problems.  Simple adjustments of the product mix; identification of non-farm opportunities; protecting and preservation of nutrients through processing; exploring alternative market channels and collective marketing opportunities can provide gender-sensitive, pro-poor growth opportunities to the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society.  Promoting nutrition-sensitive value chain development can have significant benefits in terms of improved nutrition for children and other groups with special nutritional requirements (pregnant and lactating mothers, the elderly and the ill).  This theme will also explore the impact of the non-farm sector on the rural economy in general and highlight the importance of public investments in infrastructure. 
Social protection is a crucial tool for meeting the needs of the most poor and vulnerable.  Without carefully designed programmes to provide the essentials for survival for segments of the population who are not able to provide for themselves, ultimately reduces the burden on the state for emergency and crisis responses and plays an important role in mitigating hunger and poverty.  Social protection programmes also have a role to play in social stability and reducing the reliance on international aid.  Social protection programmes that provide transfers (food, cash or assets such as livestock) provide for those in need, protect vulnerable households and promote sustainable livelihoods.  However, very little is known regarding the most appropriate options and models for efficient investment in development in Africa.