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Two Grants participation Support Program of Centre of Excellence for Nutrition

The Van Dam Foundation has provided two grants to enable two PhD students to participate in the Support Program for PhD Students of the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN) and the Supporting Nutrition and Research Education (SuNREA) project at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa in the period July – October 2022.

The Program consisted of two parts: Online/distance learning completion of modules – from 20 June – 23 September 2022 and a 6-day full-time face-to-face meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa – from 10 to 15 October 2022.

The participants that received bursaries from Van Dam Foundation are: Mrs Esther Osoma (Kenya) and Miss Madeleine Nienaber (RSA).

Esther Osoma project was entitled: Developing a Food environment Framework for Healthy food choice and consumption in Pastoralist communities in Kenya. She reported: I was able to finalize and submit my PhD proposal/protocol upon getting feedback by on my peers and assigned supervisors at NWU. I was also lucky to meet my WUR (Wageningen) supervisor, Prof. Edith who was one of the invited facilitators. I was able to meet other professors from both NWU and WUR who I had only read their articles, thus widened my professional circle. I improved my presentation skills-voice projection, eye contact, standing posture and movement, but I also learnt to be succinct in slides, colours not to use and how to manage time among other skills. I met new contacts from about 7 different countries. I made commitments at the end of the training about my projected accomplishments for the next 6 months. I have become more resilient, and I have improved my work-life balance and improved my time management, I know what to prioritize, what to delegate and what to drop.

Miss Madeleine Nienaber project was entitled: Household food security, dietary diversity and nutritional status of children in low-income households in a selected area of Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape. She reported: The PhD support program also created awareness of the importance of my emotional wellbeing as a PhD student. The journey is long and bumpy. There will be highs and lows, and we should be aware of that, but also be equipped to handle it. The Program equipped me with coping strategies as well as created a community of fellow PhD research students for support. Former PhD graduates also shared their experiences of the PhD journey, which was encouraging to hear. Emotionally, I feel more equipped to take on this journey, and it is comforting to know that there is a community routing for me and that I can turn to for any help or advice. Personally, I have learnt more about my strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge of self is important, and the Program has enabled me to grow as a person and as a researcher.


CEAL project M2M (mother to mother) Ghana

CEAL-Ghana entered into an agreement with Van Dam Foundation to implement a project called Mother to Mother (M2M). The project sought to promote and spread two local innovations (LIs) in food and nutrition in West Mamprusi Municipal. The two innovations are said to cover critical and important nutrition areas at the community level. These innovations are Walsa/Petepete and Biisi-Koko (infant porridge) flour rich in essential food nutrients required for proper growth and development of the body. The two local Innovations were identified and jointly developed with nutritional experts through farmer-led and a participatory innovation development (PID) approach under a similar, but a previous project called: Scaling -Up Local Capacities to Innovate for Food and Nutrition Security (SULCI-FaNS) which was implement in four different communities (i.e Gbani, Tinguri, Boayini and Shelinvoyi). The rationale behind the project was to strengthen the innovative capacities of rural communities, particularly of women and to increase local resilience to climate change.

The project has successfully spread knowledge and skills in local food and nutrition to 783 women in five communities. The figure could be higher but due to limited capacity the staff was unable to track all. The M2M approach is good and very effective in spreading knowledge among women in the community. The project has trained, build the capacity of women, helping them to utilize skills and supporting them to spread the knowledge of the two local innovations among their colleague women to improve nutrition security in the local communities. It has also promoted knowledge sharing among actors as the multi stakeholder platform members (representatives of local institutions and organisations) who actively participated during the project implementation did not only give their skills but also did gain knowledge, capacities, motivations, and better understanding of local innovations and M2M approach/concept. This can be mainstreamed into their own programmes and activities to achieve scaling up of the approach within the municipal local institutions. Monitoring of households as part of CEAL-Ghana routine activities indicates that the two innovations have now become part of the household daily menu in the communities.

The Van Dam Foundation has granted a second grant for 2023-2024 to further implement the M2M concept.