by Abhigya (CzechGlobe – Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences)
December 18, 2023

The FoSTA-Health team conducted the first round of cross-country stakeholder consultation workshops for the project across Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Malawi in the month of October 2023. The workshops aimed to glean diverse perspectives on food system transformations, focusing on One Health outcomes. These engagements are the first step toward exploring how human, animal, and environmental health linkages can be leveraged to transform food systems. These interactions also seek to understand how different project partners and stakeholders across the focus countries conceptualise food systems and One Health.

morogoro landscape

The events brought together stakeholders from diverse institutions, disciplines, and orientations, such as research universities, civil society groups and different government and regulatory bodies. Different sets of FoSTA-Health project partners such as academic institutions from Africa (University of Zambia, Malawi University of Science and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, University of Pretoria) and Europe (University of Leeds, Wageningen University, Czech Globe), national and regional policy organisations (Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network and Kulima Integrated Development Solutions), as well as cross-supply chain industries (SABDF) and non-governmental development organisations (CARE, KIDS) participated in the consultations. At the country level, the dialogues were coordinated by FANRPAN node organisations – Agricultural Consultative Forum in Zambia, Economic and Social Research Foundation in Tanzania, National Agriculture Marketing Council in South Africa,  and CISANET in Malawi.

sps presentation

The workshops were divided into sessions that engaged with the concept of One Health, food systems mapping, gender & food systems, governance, food and trade regulation in Southern Africa, and an exploration of representative transformation pathways as a tool for food system transformation. The rationale behind these different foci was to bring out the plurality of vantage points and perspectives on food systems transformations for OneHealth and emphasise on this diversity. In the same vein, the food system mapping exercise began with probing the different understandings of OneHealth among the stakeholders and engaging with their ideas on how linkages between human, animal, and plant health are intertwined with food systems. The facilitators from the FoSTA-Health team posed questions regarding existing OneHealth initiatives in the region and the actors who play a vital role in those interventions. Further, they discussed the main barriers and obstacles that limit these interventions and the solutions and opportunities to overcome the same.

Issues such as livestock diseases, nutrition insecurity, land use policies, cultural barriers to consuming nutritious food, the significance of supporting women's businesses and farm input subsidies were some of the recurring themes in the discussions on achieving One Health outcomes. The stakeholders also emphasised the importance of adhering to regulatory standards to address food safety issues and producing safe food for consumers as imperative to achieving 'One Health.' 

food systems mapping

The inputs give us a window into how the regional locations and institutional affiliations of different stakeholders inform the choice(s) of food system components that they tend to prioritise. For instance, stakeholders working in the livestock domain in South Africa emphasised on the importance of vaccination and farmer training to prevent zoonotic diseases. Civil society groups promoting organic agriculture in Zambia lamented the lack of policy support for the same. Those from women empowerment collectives in Tanzania stressed the need for mainstreaming gender within food system transformation projects. Farmers in Malawi pointed out the lacunae in the farm input subsidy programs. Standard settings, compliance and lack thereof ranked high on the agenda of actors from regulatory bodies across the countries. These insights illuminate the breadth of elements, human and non-human actors, institutions, cultural, socio-political and governance issues that animate food systems.

The diversity of the inputs also ties back to another key focus of the FoSTA-Health team, which is to contribute to developing the methodology of 'formative accompanying research.' This is to learn along the way from the stakeholders and partners within the FoSTA-Health team about the challenges and opportunities pertaining to food systems transformations – and also the challenges we encounter within the FoSTA-Health project. The idea is to continuously reflect on the power dynamics that shape research priorities and methods, use the learnings to refine the FoSTA-Health methodology, and contribute to a more extensive discussion on how power dynamics shape participatory processes and research. The dialogues brought us closer to exploring this component of our research and gave us a chance to observe how stakeholders' institutional priorities interact with the researchers' agendas.

Download detailed reports of the consultations here

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