From policy to practice: JSI works with governments to strengthen food and health systems – JSI

Workers seal bags of fortified maize flour at Mandela Millers Ltd in Uganda. Photo by Daudi Murungi

This is the second part in a two-part series reflecting on the JSI-led USAID Advancing Nutrition project. Click here for Part 1.

People’s choices matter when it comes to nutrition outcomes, but so do the contexts in which they are making these choices. Without structures and systems to ensure that healthy food is affordable and accessible, people’s choices are limited. In part two of this series, JSI leaders share insights from their work with USAID Advancing Nutrition to strengthen government capacity and commitment to plan, finance, and implement nutrition programming and policies for stronger health and food systems .

Ghana: Leading in nutrition in development planning

Selorme Azumah, head of the USAID Advancing Nutrition party in Ghana, and her team worked with the government to plan services that promote household resilience and early childhood development. Initially, convincing the government to prioritize nutrition in development planning, where quantitative results often outweigh less measurable outcomes, was challenging.

Selorme draws on strategies he has used throughout his 23-year career to make a convincing argument that prioritizing people’s health and well-being is an investment in Ghana’s future. The USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana team worked with district leaders to integrate nutrition and food interventions into the medium-term development plans of 17 project-supported districts. The difference was stark: compared to previous development plans, the 2022–2025 plans had more nutrition-related objectives and higher budget allocations for this work.

USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana’s work is also informing the national conversation on nutrition programming in the districts, with the expectation that the projects’ training and tools will continue to be used throughout the 2026–2030 planning cycle.

Uganda: Reducing malnutrition through strategic food fortification

Pauline Okello led USAID Advancing Nutrition in Uganda, which worked to strengthen the capacity of the government and private sector to comply with food fortification standards and regulations. Food fortification is a cost-effective, high-impact approach to reducing micronutrient deficiencies that can contribute to undernutrition. In Uganda, the government has mandated fortification of maize and wheat flour, salt, and edible oils and fats.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which disrupted grain imports, delayed project implementation. And while strong structures support nutrition efforts at all levels in Uganda, the project also explored challenges related to overlapping roles and responsibilities and competing priorities within the food fortification programme. In response, Pauline and her team worked with the Ministry of Health to revive the National Working Group on Food Fortification, a lead body that coordinates government, private, civic and academic actors involved in food fortification activities.

The private sector as a producer of fortified foods is an important programming partner. USAID Advancing Nutrition trained key trainers to support private sector strengthening and promote the business case for widespread adoption in new industries.

The training, tools and other resources created by the project will help sustain private sector and government investment in food fortification for improved nutrition outcomes in Uganda.

To learn more about the project and find resources, visit www.advancingnutrition.org.

By Shaina Bauman

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Image Source : www.jsi.com

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