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CTA Seminar 2004. Role of Information and Communication Tools in Food and Nutrition Security in ACP Countries. Maputo, Mozambique, 8-12 November 2004. Main Conclusions and Recommendations. Objectives.

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CTA Seminar 2004

Role of Information and Communication Tools in Food and Nutrition Security in ACP Countries

Maputo, Mozambique, 8-12 November 2004

Main Conclusions and Recommendations


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Objectives

  • Enhance understanding of the information needs of different stakeholders in order to inform decision makers about actions for achieving food and nutrition security.

  • Examine information tools, the conventional media such as radio and the potential of ICT for collection and analysing data and for the dissemination of information to key stakeholders in food and nutrition security.

  • Formulate recommendations regarding concrete actions and tools which can lead to improved food and nutrition security, particularly as they concern the information needs and the communication of the information to stakeholders.

  • Contribute towards capacity building in the design and implementation of information and communication tools for improved food and nutrition security.

  • Derive the implications for the future programme of activities of CTA.


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The definition and concept of food and nutrition security

  • Food security

    - Reliable access to food in sufficient quantity and quality for a healthy and productive life for all individuals.

  • Nutrition security

    - Secure access to food, coupled with a sanitary environment, adequate health services and knowledgeable care to foster good nutritional status through the life cycle and across generations. Nutrition security is as important as food security.


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Challenges facing Africa in FNS

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a number of challenges in food and nutrition security:

  • About 200 million people, a third of the population of SSA, are undernourished, while 300 million live on less than US$1 per day.

  • A third of African country populations live below recommended minimum caloric intake level.

  • The burden of malnutrition haunts the poor throughout their whole life. Insufficient food impacts on future capacity to produce food and malnutrition at an early age results in stunted growth.

  • The maco-and meta-approach, for example, structural adjustment programmes (SAP) and poverty reduction strategies (PRSP), hide the micro-level where food and nutrition insecurity are experienced.

  • Projects that provide action at the local level are still very important.

  • Although attention to agriculture and rural development had waned during the last decade, it is now back on the agenda, as evidenced by the new vision and strategy for agriculture by Au and NEPAD.


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Africa’s response to FNS challenges

The NEPAD comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP) is built around four pillars:

  • Land and water;

  • Infrastructure and markets;

  • Food and nutrition;

  • Research and extension;


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Africa’s response to FNS challenges (cont’d)

  • SSA should appreciate that having the right policies is one thing, but it is important to have strong implementing institutions. There is a need for a strong state, with power sharing and wide participation of all stakeholders. Information and communication management institutions are absolutely crucial and are key to good governance and structural transformation. The question is how to build sustainable and effective institutions that would help SSA deliver food and nutrition security to its population.


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Key issues in FNS information needs

  • Information should be collected and made available at international, regional, national, local community and household levels.

  • FNS stakeholders include decision makers, the private sector, NGOs, farmers and households (especially women).

  • The four dimensions of FNS, that is, availability, stability, access, utilization, should form part of any information package.

  • HIV/AIDS, youth and gender are important cross-cutting issues that should be taken into account in any FNS information system.

  • All information needs to be made available to different stakeholders in a useable form.


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Key issues in FNS information needs (cont’d)

  • There are still many gaps in knowledge and communication.

  • A lot of information is classified or in raw form that could not be packaged for use and dissemination to the various stakeholders.

  • At international and regional levels, there is no information on food balance sheets and best practices on polices and institutions, among others.

  • Market information is critical at national level, while at local and household levels, information on consumption patterns or levels of individuals, utilisation, and knowledge on vulnerable groups, nutritional value of local foods, health and anthropometrics is generally not monitored.


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HIV/AIDS and FNS

  • HIV/AIDS is the most serious challenge to the economic development of ACP countries, especially SSA. Its impact on agriculture and FNS is largely through reduced labour availability, coupled with the gender dimension. The following issues were noted:-

  • About 80% of HIV-infected people are women;

  • HIV/AIDS is a huge problem in East and Southern Africa, with Southern Africa as the world’s epicentre brings a new dimension to FNS: orphans (risk of having a generation of orphans and grandparents), labour shortages, lack of skills transfer;

  • The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is well known, but not the implications on FNS;

  • The ICM challenges related to HIV/AIDS – FNS are still unknown;

  • How can knowledge be transmitted with a missing generation (25-25 age group)?


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Women and youth… in agriculture and FNS

  • Rural women, in particular, need literacy, empowerment, appropriate technology and access to health and social services, to inputs and markets, to credit and to appropriate and affordable ICTs.

  • Most projects do not address youths. There is need for a better understanding on how young people can be gainfully engaged through ICM in FNS. There is need for pilot programmes on the ground to engage youths in agriculture so they can contribute to FNS.


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How can FNS information be collected and made available to decision makers at various levels?

The seminar recommended a number of approaches to collect and make available information to the various users:

  • Involvement of the grassroots, community-based organisations and NGOs;

  • Use of livelihood-based models, for example, as used in the SADC region;

  • Setting up a well-equipped National Service for Food Security with adequate staff to coordinate and manage all FNS information.


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Information and communication tools in FNS

  • The seminar highlighted the role and importance of ICM in FNS. Market Information System (MIS) are a necessary accompanying measure to market liberalisation. MIS institution building is a long-term effort.

  • FNS information can be managed through both conventional and modern ICT tools. Both tools may be exploited by creating information centres or hubs that are open to the public. Such centres may be created at community and district levels as well as local schools to allow more participation.


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Conventional tools

  • The main challenges with tools such as radio include the difficulties of powering the radios in rural areas where there is no electricity and batteries may not be easily accessible.

  • Theatre is a good tool, though it is sometimes prone to misinterpretation and the main message may be downplayed by jokes. However, it provides an opportunity to tackle serious subjects, while at the same time providing entertainment.


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Modern ICT tools

  • Modern ICT tools allow information which is both timely and accurate to pass between different stakeholders.

  • Use of internet and email is appropriate for policy makers, governments, NGOs and the private sector.


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Modern ICTs (cont’d)

Main constraints:

  • Most developing countries which usually face food security challenges, do not have access to modern ICTs;

  • Computers are not widely available and electricity is a problem in rural areas;

  • Language is a major concern for rural communities (major language in ICTs: French, English, other);

  • Poor connectivity and lack of telephone service in rural communities;

  • Lack of adequately-trained ICT personnel in rural areas.


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Modern ICT tools (cont’d)

What is needed is to have clear and appropriate ICT policies and joint resource mobilisation among stakeholders.


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Key issues in ICT

A number of key issues in ICT were identified:

  • The challenges to improve the access of rural people to information and communication tools;

  • Great need for more hardware (infrastructure) and software (skills upgrading capacity building);

  • A conducive policy environment needed for all players (government, NGOs, private sector and farmers);

  • The rural radio will for a long time remain the major tool, with the need for a decentralised service, use of local languages and better response to local needs;

  • Modern ICT tools do not substitute for conventional communication tools;

  • The recommendation is to encourage community participation in data collection and processing.


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Key issues in ICT tools (cont’d)

  • FNS information needs to be packaged in a usable form for dissemination and this requires special skills.

  • Priority needs relate to market information, agricultural policies, weather information and access to services.

  • Capacity building is required in internet language skills, use of local languages, communication skills, and general skills on use of ICT, data analysis, interpretation and dissemination, infrastructure and energy alternatives.


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Gaps in Knowledge and information

The specific gaps in information were identified as:

  • Information on FNS between local and central government levels;

  • Vulnerability and household coping mechanisms;

  • Availability of time saving and efficient farming techniques;

  • Food processing devices and preservation and processing techniques;

  • Food utilisation and nutrition education;

  • Standardisation and packaging of information.


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Recommendations for CTA’s future programme and activities

  • Raise awareness and sensitise regional leaders and policy makers in ACP countries of the role of ICM and ICT in food and nutrition security.

  • Link with mainstream IT and ICM organisations to develop and pilot ICM food and nutrition prototype information systems that may be scaled up by regional and national institutions.


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Thank youfor your attention


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