On the 1st of December, 2020, Growth through Nutrition activity conducted a webinar on Transforming Food Systems: Lessons Learned from Global and Local Experience. The webinar was organized by Tufts University in collaboration with Save the Children International and was attended by more than sixty nutrition, health, and other development professionals. Organized in consideration of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit, it was aimed to address the necessary policy and program actions in relation to food system transformation as identified in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Professor Eileen Kennedy of Tufts University provided the featured presentation, after which two commenters reflected and provided additional insight. She began by defining and highlighting the importance of a healthy and sustainable food system and remarking that, although notable progress has been made in the reduction of stunting and underweight in Ethiopia – further work is required to improve dietary diversity in the country. She also spoke of the importance of a multi-armed approach and touched upon climate change and the role of the private sector as important contributors in maintaining a sustainable food system.
In response, Dr. Kaleab, of Addis Ababa University, echoed Professor Kennedy’s sentiments that dietary diversity is, indeed, an ongoing challenge in Ethiopia (particularly in women and children), and that ongoing healthcare and Social Behavior Change Communication strategies should target the most vulnerable within these groups, also reflecting on the lack of affordability of nutritious and varied foods as an aspect that inhibited access.
Additionally, Dr. Namakolo of IFPRI Ethiopia, provided her response to Professor Kennedy’s presentation – noting that by leveraging existing knowledge from the lessons and experiences of developed countries, food systems can be improved in developing countries such as Ethiopia – including the example of developing a resilient system that can resist and overcome unexpected challenges such as those logistical ones imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The webinar successfully provided a strong overview of the challenges, opportunities and recommendations to drive positive food systems globally and in Ethiopia in anticipation of the upcoming UN summit in September 2021.