Food security impact assessment

Project team leadership: Prof Sheryl Hendriks, Prof Jannie Hugo, Prof Tessa Marcus and Prof Nic Olivier

The world is fast digitising. As computer technology advances and smart phones put greater potential for the harvesting and management of large databases, so new opportunities open up for food security monitoring and evaluation. The complexities of food security have confounded accurate measurement and monitoring of food security contexts. These applications enable exciting two-way engagement between science and society.

The funding for this project was invested in enabling and facilitating the establishment of groups of researchers working on the development of food security monitoring and evaluation systems that identified measurement frameworks, developed digital systems to collect information and then use this information to improve the lives of people in South Africa and Africa.

Prof Jannie Hugo and Prof Tessa Marcus from Family Health and their multidisciplinary research team used some of the seed funding to extend the Community-orientated Primary Health (COPC) through the development of a nutrition module and provision of smart phones to community health workers. These health workers conduct home visits in the Tshwane Municipality; entering essential health data into a Big Data set that interfaces with the District Health Centres and helps ensure that those most in need of medical intervention are supported by the system. The COPC programme continues to expand, experimenting with new systems of engagement, recording and processing of over 80 000 records.

Prof Sheryl Hendriks and a team of UP staff from agricultural economics, crop and soil science and human nutrition formed a research team that bid for funding from the Water Research Commission (co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of DAFF).This study explored what people in four of South Africa’s poorest communities produce and eat and what they can grow to improve their nutrition. The work is being extended through an Australia-Africa Universities Network project to develop a digital App for South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Through the IRT funds, the team developed a digital food security survey that has been used for other large surveys including four provincial assessments by DAFF, informed Stats SA’s Community Survey questionnaires for 2016 and is the base for an assessment of large scale land transfers through a Belmont Forum Project in Kenya, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Prof Nic Olivier has created the first phase of a digitally searchable database of over 480 international, African and African regional commitments and obligations as well as Malawi and South African national (domestic) constitutional frameworks, policies, regulatory frameworks, strategies and main programmes relating to food security and nutrition. The project was initiated under this seed funding, helped along with funding from the DST/NRF CoE in Food Security and now funded under the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy. This database is currently being migrated to an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) website to create the largest publicly available African food security and nutrition database. This will support country efforts at alignment and coherence of policies, regulatory frameworks, strategies and main programmes with the 2063 Africa Agenda, the 2014 African Union Malabo commitments and SDG2. This will also result in effecting full internal (domestic) coherence between development planning, policies, regulatory frameworks, strategies and main programmes administered by the individual African countries’ different government departments.

- Author IFNuW

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