Addressing HIV and Gender Inequities through a Food Security and Nutrition Response in Eastern and Central Africa

Case Studies
Food Security, Nutrition, Health
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through partners
Resource Publication Date:
October, 2013
Content Format:

This is one of 50 Harvesting Nutrition project case studies. Harvesting Nutrition was a contest held in 2012 and 2013 that showcased active projects working to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security on nutrition outcomes. Co-sponsors were SecureNutrition, Save the Children UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Learn More.

Project Description:

Outcome:  Effective Regional integrated food security and nutrition response to HIV, conflict, and gender inequity.

  1. Output 1: Improved livelihoods and enhanced opportunities for income generating activities among at least 81,000 vulnerable household members affected by HIV, gender inequity and food insecurity in the region.
  2. Implementation of season-long learning-training activities with 144 Farmer Field and Life Schools (FFLS) and 48 Junior/Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) groups.
  3. Integration of HIV, gender, nutrition and conflict management related topics in existing country FFS / group activities. 
  4. Output 2: Effective coordination and lessons learning in regional Food Security HIV and Gender related activities and initiatives.
  5. Regional exchange visits between the project teams of the participating countries.
  6. Collection, documentation and publishing of regional best practices and lessons learnt (including nutrition).
  7. Output 3: Francophone and Anglophone expertise developed to implement Junior/Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) for large scale roll out.
  8. Output 4: Regional capacity building, support and advocacy for HIV, Gender mainstreaming and development of food security and nutrition responses in FAO’s and partners’ field programmes (NGOs and Governments). 
  9. Trainings of FAO and partners country teams on HIV / gender and linkages to food security and nutrition leading to formulation of response action plans.
  10.  Distribution and support for uptake of related training materials and guideline tools in the area of gender / HIV / nutrition and risk management.

Impact of project:

  • Improvement in agricultural activities and diversifications of enterprises, leading to increased number of meals consumed (e.g. in Kenya).
  • In Uganda, there was increased access to food from markets due to Village Savings and Loans the FFS formed. Further, the beneficiaries reported that pregnant and breast feeding mothers, People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) were sensitized on how to prepare different soy products.  This intervention coupled with those of other partners in the area in the field of nutrition is reported to have improved the health of children with reduction in the number of cases of Kwashiorkor.
  • In Rwanda, there was improvement of nutrition practices due to better knowledge on conservation of foods, milk and beans consumption.
  • In DRC, the quantity of meals was reported to have also increased from 1 to 2 meals a day with inclusion of vegetables.  The food stock or funds saved by the households have been reported to be more available.
  • The project enabled farmers to have more income to use to cover other items (food, medication, hygiene, school equipment) and services (medical). It also contributed, along with the training on nutrition and cooking demonstrations, to a better and more diversified diet. For example, the intake of diverse vegetables (including indigenous), fruits and milk increased as participants were also able to purchase other food items with their incomes.

Why this project is a Good Practice example:

  • The project delivered comprehensive food security and nutrition assistance through a combination of Junior/Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) and Farmer Field and Life Schools (FFLS), and agricultural assistance composed of inputs and trainings to both Master trainers and Facilitators on (but not limited to) diversified production, nutrition education, practical cooking sessions of diversified local foods, etc.  Other topics that contribute to improved nutrition included:  business skills, gender.
  • The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach is a global, leading approach to adult education and agricultural extension. It is a good vehicle to incorporate gender, nutrition and HIV because FFS is community-based; it’s practical and experimental.   
  • Improving food security whilst addressing nutritional habits simultaneously is a valuable approach. Malnutrition, in this project, was reported as mainly caused by poverty, so income generating through agriculture whilst at the same time implementing nutrition education tackles the problem from two angles.
  • Currently, an independent Lessons Learnt Case study on Integrating Nutrition East & Central Africa in FFLS in is being undertaken (Aug-Nov 2013).The Field Schools in this project are also involved in the activity to document processes, knowledge and practice, provide more lessons and recommendations for better improving nutrition in FFS. This will be a valuable study to inform programs all over the world and relevant policies in agriculture and nutrition, especially on using participatory approaches like FFS for nutrition.

Impact Evaluation:

Impact evaluation in progress

Lessons Learned:

  • It is important to integrate gender, nutrition and HIV as priority issues in the design stage of the project for them to be addressed in the implementation.
  • There is a need to make nutrition more practical than theoretical. Also, there is a need to emphasize the facilitative approach, and to incorporate activities on ‘how to’ transfer gender and nutrition information in a more practical way.
  • For multi-country projects, there is need to ensure that all countries are moving at the same pace in activity implementation, though also, challenges differ from one country to another.
  • The nutritional needs of special target groups like infants and HIV patients can be better addressed across the projects.
  • For future sustainability, it is important to work closely with government partners at the community level (e.g. extension workers) and build their capacity on the same.
  • Nutrition is more relevant to the community when it is practical, and they are involved. For example, in the cooking demonstrations, and both men and women should be involved in the processes.
  • There can be a big difference between nutrition knowledge and practices at the household level among beneficiaries, and both of them need to be monitored throughout.
  • Income generating activities play a great role in the FFS and can be a channel for better access to diverse foods, especially when farmers are equipped with nutrition knowledge. 

Funders: Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)

Primary Contact: Karine Garnier, Officer In Charge

Country: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)

Project Dates: June 2010 to December 2012

Interventions: Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators, Assess the context at the local level, Target the vulnerable and improve equity, Empower women, Facilitate production diversification, Improve processing, storage and preservation, Expand markets and market access for vulnerable groups, Incorporate nutrition promotion and education,

Target Population: Rural households, Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC),

Project Stage: Completed

Geographic Coverage: Village/Municipality