On March 20, 2019, the Tufts University Growth through Nutrition Activity team hosted the 4th Project Research and Learning Working Group Meeting. The technical working group meeting which serves as a platform for experts in research, learning, and knowledge management in the Nutrition, WASH, and Agriculture projects to share learning convened at KZ Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a half-day meeting.
Introductions were offered by Rahel Gizaw, Senior Learning Advisor at Tufts, followed by opening remarks by Israel Hailu, Deputy Chief of Party of Growth through Nutrition at Save the Children, and Masresha Tessema, Acting Director of Food Science and Nutrition Research Directorate at EPHI.
The first half of the presentation was led by Mesfin Goji, Team Leader at Jhpiego, a Growth through Nutrition implementing partner. Mesfin gave a detailed presentation on the Policy and Programmatic Recommendations of Nutrition Human Resource Needs Assessment Report.
Mesfin underlined that in order to effectively accelerate Ethiopia’s target to end stunting by 2030, each NNP Implementing Sector should open a position for a nutrition professional after analyzing the recommended structure and establishing a feasible and effective structure to efficiently integrate the designated roles. This means they must develop clear career path progression to ensure motivation and retention of Nutrition professionals and allocate budget for mainstreamed nutrition tasks and nutrition human resource as this is known to have huge economic returns. Enrollment rates should also be adjusted based on NNP implementing sectors readiness to deploy the graduates.
The second half of the presentation on “Food intake and appetite of infants: a missing link in stunting reduction efforts in Ethiopia?” was led by Dr. Kaleab Baye, Associate Professor, Director of the Center for Food Science and Nutrition at AAU. As the presentation focused on the role of feeding style behaviors on infants’ food/energy intake and its association with stunting, Dr. Kaleab challenged the audience, stating, “feeding a child is never straight forward, as such, could the problem (of stunting) also be related to the feeding style?” He also highlighted some of the best feeding practices found during case studies on the field which could be beneficial at home as well.
A complementary presentation on the “Improvement of nutritional density of complementary food for young children needs to be combined with responsive feeding to reduce undernutrition” by Christèle Humblot, Institute for Research and Development (IRD), followed Dr Kaleab, focusing on the contribution of responsive feeding of improved complementary food (fermented food) and its potential contribution to reducing stunting.
Following the Q&A session, in summary, three key action points were highlighted:
1) To disseminate the HR needs assessment report using various platforms and working closely with policymakers to advocate the implementation of policy recommendations outlined in the report;
2) Share the findings of the HR needs assessment report with Universities so they align their enrollment rate by considering the accommodating rate of sectors and industries, and
3) The importance of incorporating culturally-adapted responsive feeding messages into Nutrition SBCC program and messaging.
At the closing, members were requested to contribute to the next workshop agenda by sharing key research findings, program implementation challenges, success stories etc. for the next meeting to be held in May.