Thirtieth Session of the Standing Committee on Nutrition
SCN Working Group on Capacity Development in Food and Nutritionheld during the ACC/SCN's 30th Session in Chennai, India, March 2003
Co-Chaired by Cutberto Garza (UNU), David Sanders (South Africa), and Hans Schoeneberger (Germany)
The activities of this working group aim at enhancing regionally-driven capacity development initiatives. Three regions (Asia, Africa and Latin America) have elaborated 10-year plans, which are at different stages of implementation. A quarterly newsletter members of this working group informed on progress.
The Asian Task Force has, over the last year, developed a solid initiative called "CASNA" (Capacity Strengthening in Nutrition in Asia). CASNA provides direction in the development of human resources capable of addressing priority research and programs in food and nutrition in Asia, the generation of regional databases and assessment of the knowledge-base related to priority research and programmes, optimising institutional expertise, and promoting and supporting the networking of institutions. These features focus on the following priority topics: the double burden of malnutrition, food safety, empowerment of women for food based approaches. To ensure that CASNA meets the needs of Asian institutions, a survey is being conducted to identify human capacity needs.
The Latin American Task Force advanced over the last year on various projects, including the Latin American Network Programme on Copper and Health, isotopes for evaluation of nutrition intervention programmes, the LATINUT electronic forum, and the Nutrition Policy Forum and others.
The African region is organised in three task forces: Southern Africa, Greater Horn of Africa, and West and Central Africa. Progress was reported in four areas of collaboration in capacity development: integration of HIV/AIDS topics in nutrition training, nutrition advocacy, African Nutrition Leadership, and food composition database for Africa.
The Working Group plans to form similar task forces for the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Working Group identified the following main conclusions and recommendations:
- future activities have to take into account that capacity development comprises more than training of professionals and research, and needs to be at all levels of policy and practice;
- besides the need for well trained nutritionists, there is an even greater need for well trained program managers and nutrition advocates; knowledge on community development processes is essential too;
- professionals should be enabled to integrate nutrition into key programs of other sectors such as health, agriculture, education and others;
- more emphasis on career development for the nutrition workforce;
- at time donor initiatives fragment collaboration activities, large funds can attract individual institutions out of networks; to avoid this, it is essential to engage donors proactively;
- Especially in Africa, collapsing public systems, the consequent human resource crisis, limited job opportunities and the exodus of personnel undermine capacity development initiatives;
- Peer-to-peer capacity building, using skilled people from one country to develop capacity in another, should receive more support.
Over the coming year the working group will concentrate its efforts on the following initiatives:
- Support to the regional task forces, with special emphasis on Africa. A joint effort with UNU is planned, the implementation process of the existing 10-year-plans will be revised, information of existing capacities in Africa updated, their strength and weaknesses analyzed, and feasible solutions to existing problems identified.
- Enhance opportunities for collaboration with HIV and Nutrition in Emergencies Working Group. Both working groups can actively contribute with their outcomes (research findings, concepts and approaches, contents) to the capacity development initiatives, whereas these initiatives are able to improve human resource capacities for HIV/AIDS and nutrition in emergencies programming.
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