The Joy and Challenges of Capacity Building for Better Nutrition in Africa.
Mwangi, A M
Mwikya, S M
Sehmi, J K
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partners to recognize the need for tangible support in capacity building at institutions of higher learning for better nutrition in Africa. Objective: To articulate the experience of capacity building in nutrition in Africa using the Applied Nutrition Programme of University of Nairobi as a case. Design: Case study. Setting: Applied Nutrition Programme, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition University of Nairobi, Kenya The Experiences: In response to lack of critical mass of qualified nutrition professionals for effective mainstreaming of nutrition at community and national levels in Africa, the Applied Nutrition Programme of the University of Nairobi, since 1985, has been providing sound nutrition training at postgraduate degree level, to international students; mainly from Africa and with some from New Zealand, Sweden and Brazil. The Programme also conducts capacity building in form of short courses for Government Ministries, development partners and communities and will be launching a BSc degree programme in nutrition and dietetics this year (2005). The capacity building venture has helped integrate regional indigenous nutrition knowledge and local technologies with mainstream nutrition training, producing graduates who know both their subject and field. The Programme has expanded into nutrition in emergencies, interventions, dietetics, food as a human rights and nutrition policy, inline with its goal of contributing to regional development. Lack of consistent long-term funding is a major challenge. Others include the rigid nature of donor funding, increasing competition for students and delay, though in the phase-out, in timely completion of the degree programme. Conclusion: There is adequate demand for training and the Programme has the potential to meet a substantial portion especially if provided with the necessary support. The Programme is flexible and vibrant in keeping with the dynamism that nutrition, health and development challenges require. There is a need to define and impart a critical portion of nutritional knowledge to all working in development in Africa. Recommendations: The nutrition fraternity must define a package of critical nutrition knowledge for developmental communication, increase opportunities for training and lobby for responsive policy and partnership environment that supports all aspects of capacity building including technical, infrastructure, information communication technology, equipment and scholarships either in form of direct funding or through commissioned assignments.