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In this issue:

Focus on leadership


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Content African Nutrition Matters A plublication by the African Nutrition Society ISSN: 2412-3757 ***

Editorial Team Lead editors Nonsikelelo Mathe (Zimbabwe/Canada) Dia Sanou (Burkina Faso/Canada)

Section editors Ali Jafri (Morocco) Brenda Adu (Ghana/US) Elom Aglago (Togo/France) Hayford Mawuli Avedzi (Ghana/Canada) Keiron Audain (Trinidad/UK/Zambia) Muniirah Mbabazi (Uganda/UK)

Editorial assistants Theodora Amuna (Ghana/UK) Tolu Emmanuel (Nigeria)

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Commentary from the president of the African Nutrition Society Page 4

Editorial Page 6

Thematic: Scaling Up Nutrition Leadership Development in Africa – SUNLEAD-Africa Page 9

What will it take to engage multi-sectoral change agents FOR nutrition leadership in Uganda? Page 11

Nutrition leadership on the African continent, role of young professionals Page 12


Is westernisation of lifestyle in South Africa affecting cancer risk?

Ali Jafri Saad-Eddine Jafri

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Technical Advisory Board Francis Zotor Paul Amuna Habiba Hassan Wassef *** African Nutrition Matters is distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 international license.

Valorization of African foods: Review of the therapeutic benefits of Argan oil Page 15

Regional news Page 20

Profiles Page 24

Focus on African Scientists: Felicitas Pswarayi All correspondence should be addressed to the lead editors by email: Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @anmatters Cover photo: Pixabay/skeeze (Public domain CC0)


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Commentary from the president of the African Nutrition Society

Dr. Francis B. Zotor President of the African Nutrition Society Email:

The African Nutrition Society (ANS) was born when its “founding fathers” noticed there was a dearth of a continental professional scientific voice for nutrition and an authoritative body that could act as agents of change and boldly lead the way in confronting Africa’s nutrition issues. I recall the founding fathers quipped that in the not too distant future, this great Society will be a true beacon that will beckon nutritionists and others in related fields to gravitate towards the ideals for which it was founded. I must confess, at the time, as a trustee and board member (not president), I was a bit skeptical considering the diversities in linguaphones Africa has, not to mention a non-structured harmonised nutrition profession across the continent. Over a space of five years, the ANS has indeed become a Movement and although has a modest following of about 400 or so members, some of its proactive members are either engaged as key players on the global stage or at their national platforms. The ANS has over the course since its founding, in 2010, created a stable base for its main activity through the Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC) formed in 2002 and which has successfully completed its first cycle of conferences across the sub-regions of Africa and is half way through its second cycle. Through its biennial conference, young scientists and students have had the opportunity to interact with known experts across the field, receive mentorship and build fraternities amongst each other. The ANS has also created a strong bond between its continental partners, the African Nutrition Leadership programme (ANLP), where young and enterprising nutritionist are given skills in leadership; African Graduate Students Network (AGSNet), made up of graduate students studying either in Africa or elsewhere around the globe; and the Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS), the continental body of national societies across Africa. Indeed through these bonds, the ANS is actively collaborating with these standalone organisations to present a common front in addressing our continent’s nutrition challenges. The Society continues to develop links with organisations across the globe thereby granting our members access to key nutrition journals, selected e-books and global health databases. In line with the ANS’ desire to encourage leadership within nutrition, the ANS supported the establishment of the African Nutrition Matters (ANM) newsletter. The newsletter has become the official voice of the society and is run on a voluntary basis by several African Nutrition scientists. Since its formation, the ANM stands tall as a solid information resource that is fast receiving great interest world-wide in its readership because of the varying and interesting articles the editorial team continues to put out from authoritative contributors who draw great respect in their fields of endeavour. Whether at the highest stage within the Global nutrition fraternity (IUNS) or Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), ANS members continue to enjoy the limelight and often well placed and sought after for their leadership roles. The ANS is also partnering with International Agency Research on Cancer (IARC) on a new GloboDiet initiative to harmonise nutrition assessment methodologies across Africa. The ANS has been central in the initial discussions with IARC on the need for an Africa-wide development of national/regional Centres of Excellence with the view to seeing a harmonised Global Nutrition Surveillance Initiative that will operate in tandem with our continental partners. For the benefit of its members, the ANS leadership is working very closely with the Nutrition Society of Great Britain and Ireland to modernise its database and radically change the way the Society functions. We are hopeful our members will see the unveiling of the new image of the Society at our next conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. Our efforts within the e-Nutrition Academy (eNA) consortium in collaboration between the Nutrition societies of Great Britain and Ireland (NS), American Society for Nutrition (ASN), FANUS and the International Union of Nutrition Societies (IUNS) are not only remarkable but we are indeed championing a strong base for capacity development across Africa. This is indeed consistent with the original intentions of the Society’s founding fathers. May the ANS continue to embrace its ideals, gain traction and be the true beacon of hope for nutrition in Africa.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Editorial Dear Reader, Happy New Year and welcome to this edition of African Nutrition Matters where we focus on Leadership in Nutrition. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy

Dr. Nonsikelelo Mathe Co-editor in chief Email:

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have created an unprecedented momentum for nutrition; in particular creating political commitment, increasing funding, developing research agendas and community engagement. Evidence has been gathered on cost effective nutrition interventions that work. As global development is moving toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the momentum and the accomplishments from the MDGs need to be sustained and translated into effective actions. Addressing the challenges of sustaining past commitments, advancing the nutrition and development agenda in multi-sectoral contexts, will require new types of nutrition professionals. Undoubtedly, increasing technical competencies is crucial to implementing and scaling up nutrition interventions. However, the recent Castel Gandolfo expert workshop held in March 2014 in Italy, which discussed the evolving need of capacity development and the need to support nutrition in the post-2015 development agenda, identified additional requirements for developing a workforce for nutrition. This workforce needs the ability to work as part of multi-sectoral teams, have effective communication, advocacy, and leadership skills to engage decision makers.

Dr. Dia Sanou Co-editor in chief Email:

Within the evolving nutrition landscape of nutrition, African countries need more leaders to deepen and sustain the commitment to nutrition, capacitate and motivate current nutrition workers and to create and manage successful multi-sectoral teams. Leaders in sectors aligned to nutrition and those non-traditional sectors can all be involved in creating sustainable, policy driven solutions to under and over nutrition [malnutrition]. Indeed globally, there are many united voices around the importance of nutrition to human capital and ultimately economic growth and development. Most recently, the Global Nutrition Report has shown the economic cost of malnutrition. Highlighted most importantly in the report are the rates of stunting in African countries and the global rise in childhood overweight and obesity. The Global Nutrition Report outlines which key nutrition strategies would be an excellent return on investment for any government and especially in resource limited settings. In this edition of ANM the focus is on leadership. Our thematic article is from the director the African Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP) Professor Johann Jerling, Director of the Center of Excellence in Nutrition, North West University- South Africa. In this contribution, Professor Jerling discusses the role of leadership development in achieving the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative. As part of this effort, the Scaling Up Nutrition Leadership in Africa (SUNLEAD-Africa) initiative was born out of the highly successful African Nutrition Leadership Program (ANLP). The article emphasis why SUNLEAD was a necessary initiative, what it achieved and what the future steps are. Overall, 19 ANLP alumni successfully competed and were selected for the SUNLEAD


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

workshop carried out in Potchefstroom South Africa with follow-up activities in their home countries. One of the SUNLEAD fellows, Alex Mokori, shares his experience of taking back lessons learnt and implementing a multisectoral workshop in Uganda, as part of the SUNLEAD home assignment. In keeping with the leadership theme, we have an interview with Fre Pepping who discusses the motivations and arrangements for PLAN (Programme de Leadership African en Nutrition) the French equivalent of ANLP, which is organized in Morocco every two years. Afua Atuobi describes her expectations of the ANLP program which she is about to undertake, while Ms Karki a very recent graduate of PLAN relates her experiences of the program and what impact its had on her and her life. As a learned body, the African Nutrition Society has been working on various issues that are contributing to build leadership capacity in Africa. The Society President introduces some of them and provides way forward for addressing capacity challenges in Africa. In other articles we follow African nutrition scientists in different fora globally. Dr Keiron Audain details the plenaries at the 2nd Global Food Security Conference held in Ithaca, October 11-14, 2015 and also reports on the African Green Revolution Forum held in Lusaka Zambia 29 September -2nd October 2015. We focus on food scientist Felicitas Pswarayi as who describes her work at the University of Zimbabwe and University of Alberta supported by the Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship in 2015. Other contributors include African Graduate Student Network (AGSNet) on Nutrition leadership on the African continent, the role of young professionals. Other subject matters we highlight an article of relevance from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) blog titled “Is westernisation of lifestyle in South Africa affecting cancer risk?” By Dr Sabina Rinaldi. As our opening statement shows leadership and learning are inextricably linked. We hope in this issue to show the growing discussions around strategic capacity building, focused on learning and increased knowledge of nutrition workers in African countries. We hope to continue these discussions throughout the year until we meet at this years’ African Nutrition Epidemiology Conference in Morocco.




References •

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Fanzo JC, Graziose MM, Kraemer K, Gillespie S, Johnston JL, de Pee S, Monterrosa E, Badham J, Bloem MW, Dangour AD, et al. 2015. Educating and Training a Workforce for Nutrition in a Post-2015 World. Adv Nutr. 2015 Nov; 6(6):639-47 Jerling Johann, 2015. Reflections on nutrition leadership capacity development. sight and life VOL. 29(2):49-53. Kraemer Klauss 2014. Towards the Next Horizon for Nutrition – Capacity Development. In Global Nutrition Report 2014. Sodjinou R, Bosu WK, Fanou N, Deart L, Kupka R, Tchibindat F, Baker S. A systematic assessment of the current capacity to act in nutrition in West Africa: cross-country similarities and differences. Glob Health Action 2014;7:24763.


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THEMATIC: Scaling Up Nutrition Leadership Development in Africa – SUNLEAD-Africa

Prof. Johann Jerling Director & founding member of the African Nutrition Leadership programme (ANLP) Director of the Centre of Excellence in Nutrition @ North West University, South Africa

The African Nutrition Leadership Programme has been committed to developing leaders in nutrition since 2002. Over the last 15 years over 500 individuals have undergone a variety of leadership development programmes – some focused on individual capabilities and some focusing on leading change interventions in a specific context. Leadership is associated with taking an organization into the future, about finding and successfully exploiting opportunities and unlocking potential. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in into that vision, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is about behavior and relationships – not about position. Practicing excellent leadership is needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. There is a growing understanding of what leadership is and a greater awareness of how improving leadership capabilities will contribute significantly to the improvement of the nutrition status of populations and individuals

SUNLEAD Africa One of the four strategic objectives for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement is to create an enabling political environment, with strong in-country leadership, and a shared commitment (multi-stakeholder platforms) where stakeholders align their activities and take joint responsibility for scaling up nutrition. In order for multi-sectoral platforms to effectively plan and implement sustainable nutrition change interventions, it is necessary to bring diverse stakeholders together and then lead them in a manner which establishes alignment and commitment towards a unified purpose objective. This can only be done by enabling stakeholders to work together in effective teams – focused on delivering improved and scaled-up nutrition results at community level. Although this is a critical success factor, there are strong indications that the functional capacity for effective planning and especially for transforming plans into action at district level is suboptimal. Action plans are mostly activity-based (input-based) and not outcome-based. This, coupled with traditional attitudes and orientations toward management and a lack of leadership orientation, insights, skills and applications, create working environments that are not conducive to effective team functioning and the effective implementation of nutrition programmes. The overall objective of the Scaling Up Nutrition Leadership in Africa (SUNLEAD AFRICA) partnership between the North-West University, the African Nutrition Leadership Programme (NWU-ANLP) and UNICEF was: To improve the enabling environment for scaling up nutrition in focus districts in two countries and to improve the capacity for implementing context-specific multi-sectoral nutrition programmes. The expected overall outcome was that specific districts would accelerate the implementation of quality multi-sectoral nutrition programmes to address undernutrition among their populations. In order to achieve this, the following outcomes and stated activities were defined: 1. African countries will have improved access to transformational leadership capacity,


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building effective teams and resources to support multi-sectoral nutrition programming on the continent. Activities: Develop a Pan-African Nutrition Leadership Master Trainer Team (MATT) with the capacity to effectively facilitate and develop transformational leadership competencies in existing in-country multi-sectoral nutrition teams. 2. Selected district teams in Uganda and Rwanda will have enhanced leadership capabilities, policies and partnerships to support the scaling up of multi-sectoral nutrition programmes at district level. Activities: Strengthen the capacities of specific districts to effectively lead and manage multi-sectoral nutrition plans to reduce stunting. A pilot project aimed at building leadership capacity for effective programme implementation was successfully completed over a period of 4 months in a group of 45 individuals from 5 districts: 2 in Uganda and 3 in Rwanda. Uganda was selected because of the synergy with the Africa Nutrition Security Partnership and Rwanda because of the high potential for impact. In addition, a specialised nutrition leadership master trainer group (n=19) from 10 African countries was trained. These master trainers will be able to independently scale up nutrition leadership development programmes in Africa in the future. Awareness of the importance of personal growth (based on individual development needs) as instrumental in improving team effectiveness was created. In addition, participants gained new insights into their own behaviour and its impact on the effectiveness of their district teams. District teams each developed a unique purpose statement, defined their own operational values, and identified critical success factors for scaling up nutrition in their districts. They formulated action plans to improve their teams’ functionality and build awareness and understanding of the limitations of the existing activity-based programme implementation strategies. Districts became aware of the need to monitor district plans continuously and to eventually perform impact evaluations as part of their implementation strategies. Based on these activities each district formulated their own declaration of intent regarding their commitment towards improving team effectiveness and to implement purpose-directed district plans. In addition, they formulated a basic plan for sustained growth and development at individual and team level.

Leading change Leadership capacity building in the African Nutrition context means to be able to initiate, plan, implement and to lead meaningful change. Developing change leadership capabilities in this context is aimed at increasing knowledge, changing attitude and orientations, acquiring skills and developing proficiency at applying intervention methodologies in a context where leading change is called for. The process of leading change is a non-sequential one and could consist of many or even all of the principles below. Determine the reasons for a change process, and the outcomes it should deliver; Determine if the defined end-purpose reflects a real need for change; Perform a stakeholder analysis and plan to create stakeholder aligned commitment to the purpose and process of change, by applying the aligned commitment equation and using embedding mechanisms to sustain energy and effort; Ensure the availability of a wide range of transformational leadership skills and grow transformational leadership orientations, attitudes, skills and other competencies (this could be a major effort); Diagnose current effectiveness issues (strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities, problems, conflicts and dilemmas) that need to be addressed; Integrate the planned implementation of the other eight principles into a comprehensive change intervention plan focused on attaining envisioned purposes and specifying all the necessary activities; Grow knowledge and skills to identify the sources and nature of resistance and the ability to effectively manage resistance to change; Enable an environment and orientations that will facilitate the execution of future change demands – becoming a change adept organization; and Develop and perform checks and evaluations to detect obstacles and measure progress, along with the eventual achievements, in order to redirect and/or adapt change interventions.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Some lessons learnt about capacity building from SUNLEAD Africa and the ANLP 1. Gaining aligned commitment from all stakeholders right from the start is critical for success of any change process. 2. Human development takes time and sustained personal commitment – there are no quick fixes. 3. Change ALWAYS starts at an individual level. 4. People effect change – systems can at best facilitate the process. The attitudes and behavior of all the people involved are also of crucial importance. 5. Creating an awareness of one’s own orientations, strengths and weaknesses and having the courage to act on that self-knowledge, is the starting point for development. 6. Local facilitators are indispensable – self-assessment in a second or third language is second best. 7. The current practices and the management of daily subsistence allowances are significant barriers to establish conducive individual orientations to self-development and development of change leadership skills. Money becomes a motivating factor for attending development opportunities and is a barrier to focusing on purposes beyond material self-interest. 8. The planning, implementation and eventual evaluation of nutrition action plans that focus only on inputs and not on outcomes, will not make any significant contributions on the continent. Measuring actions and activities and not the outcomes and results of nutrition improvement plans need to change as a matter of urgency in order to make greater strides in our quest for better nutrition for all.

Where to from here The SUNLEAD Africa leadership project represents the first serious step to scale up capacity by developing change leadership capabilities. But – where to from here? Based on our recent experience our answer is that we need to create awareness of the fact that we have developed a team of people who have the capacity to start rolling out more leadership development initiatives simultaneously in both Francophone and Anglophone Africa. We have to continuously support and develop this group of trainers further and expand the present capacity by including and training more individuals who have this capability and who are interested in capacity development in this endeavor. We need to seek out and make use of opportunities to develop change leadership capacity on all levels and to ensure that we continuously learn and improve what we do. Being able to lead – regardless of where you are in the hierarchy - is without doubt the single most important competencies one could have to effect change.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

What will it take to engage multi-sectoral change agents FOR nutrition leadership in Uganda? This article is an extract of my journey through nutrition policy and programming in Uganda, African Nutrition Leadership Training Program (ANLP), the Scaling Up Nutrition Leadership Development in Africa (SUNLEAD) project and the nutrition leadership training for multi-sectoral change agents in Uganda. Uganda famously considered as the Pearl of Africa for its good climate and fertile soil with largely sufficient food to feed her people at aggregate level. Surprisingly, the country also has unacceptably high levels of under-nutrition in children and women of child-bearing age. As a result of this, Uganda has had many nutrition initiatives to address undernutrition, the latest of which is the SUNLEAD project—the focus of this article.

Alex Mokori Uganda SUNLEAD master trainer 2015 ANLP 2011 alumnus

As a young nutritionist, I have grown up in the world where there are numerous global, continental, national and district level initiatives promoting nutrition as a developmental agenda. Momentarily, I thought that I, like many others before me, was only dreaming. In November 2010, I realized for the first time in my five years of work in nutrition, that the world was more than united and determined to propel the global nutrition agenda forward in all countries. Reading an article published in the New York Times about our own Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Sam Kutesa who committed Uganda to rise up as a country and embrace the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, I and colleagues at Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) II project in Uganda almost knelt down and thanked the Lord for finally hearing our struggles. For many years in Uganda, FANTA had been driving solo in advocating to the government of Uganda and other partners to embrace nutrition as developmental issue. My colleagues and I embraced the commitment made by our minister in New York as an opportunity to finally rally friends of nutrition in Uganda and ensure that the government takes the front seat in nutrition leadership in the country. The friends of nutrition in Uganda enthusiastically, under the technical leadership of Professor John Tuhe Kakitahi, a long term nutrition champion, took on the challenge. The team organized a series of advocacy meetings with different caucuses of government and civil society, convinced different ministries to commit to supporting nutrition in Uganda and had the parliament identify the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to coordinate all nutrition efforts in the country. The team, through the energetic and vocal nutrition champion, Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa, the chairman of the National Planning Authority, crowned their efforts by having President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni launch the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (UNAP) 2011-2016 in November 2011. I remember well how the conference hall was filled up with excited, happy and very optimistic friends of nutrition during the launch. The president followed up the key note address by Dr. Robert Mwadime, the then Senior Regional Nutrition Advisor for FANTA, urged everyone especially medical officers to go and teach wanaichi (locals) about nutrition. As by then a recent trainee of ANLP in March 2011, I left that conference hall filled with the greatest joy and hope for nutrition in my country knowing that the time to see all sectors embrace nutrition as a development agenda had finally come. But then how to actively engage different sectors at national, district and community levels in promoting uptake of nutrition was still fussy. Not relenting, the government initiated plans for rolling out UNAP to districts. Each sector was tasked to develop and cost their micro-


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

plans for consolidation into the national implementation plan for the UNAP. The National Planning Authority handed over the coordination of nutrition efforts to OPM, which immediately formed the district nutrition coordination committees (DNCC) in the ‘early riser’ districts and developed the UNAP orientation package for DNCC. The early riser districts were defined as having a high burden of under-nutrition, willing to take leadership in nutrition and had implementing partners supporting them. Deemed as the best way to bring the multi-sectoral DNCC members up to speed about UNAP and their roles and responsibilities, the UNAP orientation package was rolled out throughout the country. Whereas the orientation package was good for nutrition advocacy to the district technical and political representatives in the committees, the committees were excited about their roles and responsibilities only for a short period of time. The action plans for implementation and monitoring of nutrition interventions in each district that the committees were required to develop during the one day-UNAP orientation largely remained on office shelves. This stemmed from lack of motivation of the committee members in terms of financial and logistical incentives from development partners. Years down the road post the orientation of the committees, little activity engagement of the DNCC members in nutrition work was seen unless there were development partners in the district to provide them with incentives. Seeing the highly deserved success at national level dwindle at the action level at district and subcounty was not technical training of change agents as quick fixes to mobilise the promotion of nutrition in their constituencies, without sufficient understanding of what the priority needs of the agents are. It seems as a country, we fell prey to this old ideology. Different thought lines were needed in order to actively have the DNCC members play their roles as stipulated in the UNAP. Hence, the SUNLEAD project with support from UNICEF piloted nutrition leadership training of DNCC members from Kanungu and Nebbi districts in Uganda, from June -August 2015, with the aim of developing leadership capabilities to effectively scale up nutrition interventions in Uganda, as well as in Rwanda. Instead of focusing on the technical element of the DNCC (nutrition content), the SUNLEAD project addressed the challenges of nutrition program implementation from the leadership angle. As co-facilitator of the training, my experience from the training has showed that the participatory individual growth and team effectiveness approach that SUNLEAD used was successful in helping the committee members realize how their leadership potential could influence nutrition and how individuals affected overall team functionality. The members who participated in the two training sessions confessed that the approach used by the project was unique and better than any other training they have received before. Indeed, never before in my experience as a national nutrition trainer, did I see a team of district representatives so committed to the cause as this. The committees fully participated in developing own visions, goals and identifying priority interventions they could implement to reduce the burden of maternal and child under-nutrition in their districts without much reliance on external support. Listening to the stories of how much the committees had done in the four weeks between the two training sessions sent tears down my face because I felt we had finally learnt what it takes to have DNCC members voluntarily and actively engaged in district nutrition work on their own. The project although short in duration has demonstrated that it is possible to build nutrition leadership capacity of multi-sectoral change agents to champion nutrition change at district and lower local governments in Uganda. Like how the political will at national level was instrumental in pushing for multi-sectoral nutrition programming, the political leaders in the two trainings showed willingness to support the initiative at district level. Tailored SUNLEAD leadership training to help different local government technical and political representatives in the DNCC work together was an important step towards building a united and highly motivated team. Finally, the SUNLEAD master trainers (Dr. Maina.G. Wamuyu and I) have the potential to scale up this initiative to all districts in Uganda. Much appreciation to UNICEF, EU and the ANLP leadership for selecting Uganda as a beneficiary country for the project.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Nutrition leadership on the African continent, role of young professionals Nutrition is a growing area of interest earning a listening ear from politicians when its impact is shown on a country’s economy and development; for the agriculturist, nutrition as a fuel to the cycle of production and consumption; for the educationist its impact on cognition and in medicine its role in prevention of diseases and management of diet-related conditions or the recovery process. For all professions nutrition may earn a call for discussion depending on the language nutritionist’s speak to appeal to their career objectives.

Dr. Brenda Abu Postdoctoral research associate

Texas Tech University

Joseph Ashong USAID

In Africa, nutrition is gaining the center stage as conflict, instability in the midst of malnutrition reverses development. The momentum to appeal to all these extents, and related issues, require leadership. The formation of African Nutrition Society (ANS), the Federation of African Nutrition Society (FANUS) and many other national societies for nutrition is in recognition of the need for leadership and a unified voice in nutrition. The future of African nutrition is dependent on young people to champion, and maintain the acceleration as well as serve as advocates for situating nutrition in its rightful place in program development and policy formulations for total development. Young African graduates’ then schooling at Cornell University in the USA came together to form the African Graduate Nutrition Student Network (AGSNet) in 2002 with a sole purpose of creating a platform to build in its members at the formative stage of their studies and professional careers, the spirit of collaboration and sharing of ideas to solve problems and ignite their passion to contribute to the promotion and enhancement of better nutrition in Africa. AGSNet is a global society for graduate nutrition students studying in every corner of the globe – Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Members are keenly interested in African nutrition and wish to apply lessons learned from other continents to solve the nutrition problems in Africa. Apart from bringing graduate nutrition students together, AGSNet provides a unified voice for young nutritionist and showcase the potential of the young African nutritionists as partners to improve the statistics of malnutrition in Africa but most importantly to bring health and development to Africa. It has a membership of about 400 graduate students and young professionals in 4 continents studying diverse aspects of nutrition with the zeal to play their roles in addressing the malnutrition situation in Africa and the world. The AGSNet has benefited from immerse support from societies and networks with similar overall goal of tackling malnutrition via capacity building. The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) is providing the opportunity for individual and systemic mentorship to the AGSNet to effectively run a global network with young and mostly under-resourced membership. Many other organizations such as the UN University, Nestle Foundation, Sight and Life have in various ways supported the AGSNet in its quest to create opportunities for young Africans to contribute their quota to fight malnutrition. Tackling malnutrition in Africa requires trained and enthusiastic grassroots leaders to be at the forefront of the fight against malnutrition especially at the community level. The strategic positioning of AGSNet creates the needed platform to produce enthusiastic and energetic grassroot leaders needed to fight malnutrition on the continent. Members have showcased their potentials through research and programmatic publications and presentations at international conferences worldwide. Given the opportunity and ‘freedom’ to contribute their quota, young African graduates and professionals are more than willing to contribute meaningfully to the fight against malnutrition. In most cases, young Africans are hindered from or not listened to in finding solutions to nutrition problems in Africa, simply because they are young and ‘inexperienced’. It is likely to see same faces of the older generation at nutrition and related conferences/meetings and workshops with the young ones rarely presenting. Funding agencies readily support the older established generations versus the younger ones. Africa benefits in the long-term if there is a good blend of the young and old folks for such opportunities. AGSNet plans to fully participate in discussions on Africa and global nutrition and increase the awareness of the potential of young professionals in addressing the persistent malnutrition issues in Africa. Young nutrition leaders are the only assurance to sustainably dealing with malnutrition in Africa and they wish to be recognized as partners for nutrition and development.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Is westernisation of lifestyle in South Africa affecting cancer risk? World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project has found strong evidence that lifestyle factors affect breast cancer risk. Alcoholic drinks are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer at all ages. Meanwhile, being overweight increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and physical activity is linked to a decreased risk. However, these associations are mainly based on studies focusing on Caucasian women, and there are indications that breast cancer may be different in women of African ethnicity. The rapid lifestyle changes that are occurring in Africa, make this an interesting population in terms of providing insights into the influence of diet, body fatness, physical activity and sedentary behaviour on breast cancer.

Dr. Sabina Rinaldi

South Africa is becoming more urban

International Agency for Research on Cancer

This is why South Africa – the richest of the Sub-Saharan African countries – is the ideal setting for our research into the impact of lifestyle changes on the breast cancer risk in African women. South Africa’s expanding urban areas are inhabited by a wide variety of people with contrasting behaviours, which make them good places to conduct epidemiological studies. South African women are also a useful cohort for our research as breast cancer is the most common cancer in this group, and studies have shown that there are large differences between the country’s urban and rural populations in terms of dietary habits, obesity, physical activity and sedentary behaviours. For example, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is 61% among women living in urban areas and 48% among those living in rural locations. Body composition (percentage of lean vs fat tissue) may also operate differently in black and white women depending on where the fat is located in the body, and thus have different associations with breast cancer risk. So with the support of World Cancer Research Fund UK, we have set up a study (the SABC study) at the Baragwanath Hospital in the Soweto area of Johannesburg to identify the causes of breast cancer in South African women. Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at the hospital are invited to participate in the study immediately after their diagnosis and before any therapy. Questionnaire data on lifestyle, reproductive factors, physical activity/inactivity, and diet are collected, along with height and weight measurements and blood and urine samples. To have a better estimate of their lean versus fat tissues, the women also undergo dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and ultra sound imaging. To further understand why they developed breast cancer, their data is compared with that of healthy Soweto women who are of a similar age to the patients. So far more than 300 subjects have been recruited, and comparing the data from these two populations should shed light on the specific risk factors for breast cancer in African women living in Soweto. In particular, the results of the SABC study will be key to identifying the risk factors associated with obesity, physical activity, and nutrition that may be modified to prevent or reduce the risk of the disease in the population. Preliminary results from the analysis of the information from first participants enrolled in the study have been presented at the AORTIC conference in Marrakech, Novermber 2015.

Dr Rinaldi works as part of the Nutrition and Metabolism Section, Biomarkers Group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. She has been awarded two research grants as part of World Cancer Research Fund International’s Regular Grant Programme.

About WCRF World Cancer Research Fund International is the world’s leading authority on the link between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer. On behalf of the cancer prevention charities in the World Cancer Research Fund network, WCRF International commissions research from around the world in this area. Their Continuous Update Project is the world’s most authoritative and up-to-date source of research on cancer prevention and survivorship through diet, weight and physical activity. From their analysis of global research, about a third of common cancers are preventable. The WCRF network uses Cancer Prevention Recommendations based on this research to provide practical advice on how people can reduce their risk of developing cancer, as well as influencing public health policy at the highest level. The World Cancer Research Fund International blog regularly discusses relevant research and policy actions from around the world.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Valorization of African foods : Review of the therapeutic benefits of Argan oil Argan oil is a typical Moroccan vegetable oil; it is extracted from the fruit of Argania spinosa, an endemic tree of South-Western Morocco. Since 2014, Argan practices and know-how concerning the Argan tree have been registered on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO. In this paper we will report some of the work that has been done on the effects and properties of argan oil.

Composition Dr. Ali Jafri Research associate University Hassan II Casablanca Morocco

All studies that have reported various benefits of the Argan oil, from its cosmetic properties to its anti-tumoral effect, have attributed the benefits to its “unique� composition. This oil is primarily composed of acylglyderides (99%) -principally oleic and linoleic acids- the remaining 1% of unsaponifiable matter is composed of carotens, tocopherols, triterpene alcohol, sterols and xanthophylls (1). The high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids is more than likely to be the reason behind some of the pharmacological properties of argan oil. However, many other oils have similar composition in fatty acids without sharing the same properties, which suggests that many of Argan oil’s specific health benefits are attributed to its composition of the unsaponifiable matter and high tocopherol content (2).

Cosmetic properties

Prof. Abdelfettah Derouiche University Hassan II Casablanca Ben Msik School of Science Head of the Human Nutrition Reseach Group


Cosmetic creams and soaps containing Argan oil are widely known and used to protect and repair the skin. The effect of the oil on skin elasticity has been reported in post-menopausal women; topical application of 240 mg (10 drops) of argan oil each night had an anti-aging effect on the skin demonstrated by the improvement of skin elasticity after 30 and 60 days of use (3). The anti-sebum effect of the oil has been demonstrated in male and female volunteers (17-50 years), daily application (twice) for 4 weeks showed a reduction in the casual sebum level and in the area covered with oily spots (4).

Cardiovascular prevention Hypolipidemic and hypocholesterolemic effects of Argan oil have been demonstrated in rats. After 7-week treatment with argan oil, blood lipoproteins were significantly reduced which was mainly associated with the polyunsaturated fatty acids composition of the oil (5). Another study showed that the phenolic-extract from argan oil provides a source of dietary phenolic antioxidants, which prevent cardiovascular diseases by inhibiting LDL-oxidation and enhancing reverse cholesterol transport (6), incubation of LDL with Argan oil significantly prolonged the lag-phase and lowered the progression rate of lipid peroxidation and reduced the disappearance of Vitamin E in a concentration-dependent manner. Incubation of HDL with the oil significantly increased the fluidity of the HDL phospholipidic bilayer and HDL-mediated cholesterol efflux from THP-1 macrophages (6). A randomized-controlled trial reported the hypolepidemic activity of Argan oil (7); it was shown that a daily consumption of 25g of the oil during 3 weeks resulted in a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein A-I and a decrease in triglycerides (7).

Cancer prevention The consumption of olive oil, along with fruits, vegetables, and fish, in several


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Mediterranean countries is considered a major factor in preserving a relatively low prevalence of NCDs in those populations. The combined existence of phenolic antioxidants, squalene and oleic acid in olive oil should afford considerable protection against certain cancers and ageing by inhibiting oxidative stress (8). Due to the similarity in the composition between olive and argan oils, an antiproliferative effect has been claimed for argan oil (9).

Hormonal properties Due to the alleged aphrodisiac properties of the oil, its effect on the male hormonal profile has been studied (10) and compared to the effect of olive oil. The study has been carried among young men. Results showed that testosterone (T) and luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations significantly increased after the intervention. Thus, T concentration increased by 19.9% after using argan oil and by 17.4% after using olive oil. Under the same conditions, LH concentration increased by 18.5% after using argan oil (p < 0.007) and by 42.6% after using olive oil. The effect of those vegetable oils has been hypothesized to be the result of an activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-testicular axis (as hinted by the increase of LH secretion). A good part of the Leydig cell steroidogenesis regulation is initiated by the secretion of GnRH (gonadotrophin releasing hormone) by the hypothalamus. This hormone stimulates the release of LH by the adenohypophysis, which is the primary stimulus for the T biosynthesis by the testes (11,12).

Antidiabetic properties Trials were performed on rats to explore the antidiabetic activity of argan oil, the rats which were fed 6% of argan oil as part of a high-fat/high-sucrose diet showed a restoration of insulin signaling in fat and liver cells yet did not prevent weight gain (13). This shows that argan oil can improve some of the metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high-fat/high-sucrose feeding.

Conclusion Argan oil has been used in Morocco as food and applied to the skin for centuries; there are currently no known acute or chronic toxicity levels. Only one case of anaphylaxis has been reported (14). Therapeutic doses to prevent metabolic diseases range from 15-30g (1-2 tablespoons) of uncooked argan oil per day (1).

References 1. Guillaume D, Charrouf Z. Argan oil. Altern Med Rev. 2011;16(3):275–9. 2. Charrouf Z, Guillaume D. Argan oil: Occurrence, composition and impact on human health. Eur J Lipid Sci Technol. 2008 Jul;110(7):632–6. 3. Boucetta KQ, Charrouf Z, Aguenaou H, Derouiche A, Bensouda Y. The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity. Clin Interv Aging. 2015;10:339–49. 4. Dobrev H. Clinical and instrumental study of the efficacy of a new sebum control cream. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Jun;6(2):113–8. 5. Berrougui H, Ettaib A, Herrera Gonzalez MD, Alvarez de Sotomayor M, Bennani-Kabchi N, Hmamouchi M. Hypolipidemic and hypocholesterolemic effect of argan oil (Argania spinosa L.) in Meriones shawi rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Nov;89(1):15–8. 6. Berrougui H, Cloutier M, Isabelle M, Khalil A. Phenolic-extract from argan oil (Argania spinosa L.) inhibits human low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and enhances cholesterol efflux from human THP-1 macrophages. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Mar;184(2):389–96. 7. Derouiche A, Cherki M, Drissi A, Bamou Y, El Messal M, Idrissi-Oudghiri A, et al. Nutritional intervention study with argan oil in man: effects on lipids and apolipoproteins. Ann Nutr Metab. Karger Publishers; 2005 Jan 10;49(3):196–201. 8. Owen RW, Giacosa A, Hull WE, Haubner R, Würtele G, Spiegelhalder B, et al. Olive-oil consumption and health: the possible role of antioxidants. Lancet Oncol. 2000 Oct;1:107–12. 9. Khallouki F, Younos C, Soulimani R, Oster T, Charrouf Z, Spiegelhalder B, et al. Consumption of argan oil (Morocco) with its unique profile of fatty acids , tocopherols , squalene , sterols and phenolic compounds should confer valuable cancer chemopreventive effects. Eur J cancer Prev. 2003;12(1):67–75. 10. Derouiche A, Jafri A, Driouch I, Khasmi M El, Adlouni A, Benajiba N, et al. Effect of Argan and Olive Oil Consumption on the Hormonal Profile of Androgens Among Healthy Adult Moroccan Men. Nat Prod Commun. 2013;8(1):51–3. 11. Kaiser UB, Conn PM, Chin WW. Studies of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) action using GnRH receptor-expressing pituitary cell lines. Endocr Rev. 1997 Feb;18(1):46–70. 12. Sokol RZ. Endocrinology of male infertility: evaluation and treatment. Semin Reprod Med. 2009 Mar 1;27(2):149–58. 13. Samane S, Christon R, Dombrowski L, Turcotte S, Charrouf Z, Lavigne C, et al. Fish oil and argan oil intake differently modulate insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in a rat model of dietary-induced obesity. Metabolism. 2009 Jul;58(7):909–19. 14. Astier C, Benchad YEA, Moneret-Vautrin D-A, Bihain BE, Kanny G. Anaphylaxis to argan oil. Allergy. 2010 May;65(5):662–3.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

REGIONAL NEWS Report on the African Green Revolution Forum

Dr. Keiron Audain University of Zambia

The fifth instalment of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) was held in Lusaka, Zambia from 29th September and 2nd October 2015. Jointly hosting the forum was the AGRF Partners Group, the Zambian Government and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA); with this year's theme as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Walking The Talk on Youth and Women; Bringing Inclusive Agricultural Markets to Lifeâ&#x20AC;?. The purpose of this illustrious gathering was to engage a multitude of stakeholders on the boosting of sustainable agricultural productivity and income growth among smallscale African farmers, particularly women and youth. This is centred on the idea of the promotion of a new green revolution in Africa. Well over 600 people from a range of disciplines including government, agribusiness firms, financial institutions, scientists, NGOs, civil society and farmers were in attendance. Much of the deliberation was focused on the commitments agreed upon during the Malabo Declaration at the African Union (AU) Summit in June 2014; and how they impacted on women, youth and the involvement of the domestic private sector. Among these commitments were the promise of an end to hunger on the continent by 2025, the halving of poverty by 2025 via inclusive agricultural growth, and the boosting of intra-African trade in agricultural commodities. The five thematic groups to be worked on in order to achieve these goals included: (1) Finance; (2) inputs; (3) agriculture infrastructure; (4) trade and markets and the domestic private sector development; and (5) capacity development, youth and women in agriculture. A number of reasons have been cited as to why the successes of the green revolution in Asia were not achieved in Africa, including the African climate being too varied and the lack of infrastructure such as road networks. Yet a major stumbling block to the realisation of a green revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) was a lack of use of chemical fertilisers. In fact, SSA apparently has the lowest rate of fertiliser use compared to other regions. This is mainly attributed to its high cost, which deters many small farmers from investing in these and other inputs. Much of this expense is added on due to import fees and transport costs, which drives up the price to unaffordable levels. Whilst considering the risk of environmental damage, it is acknowledged that fertilisers are necessary to maintain soil fertility. Farmers with limited budgets are also encouraged to plant legumes as a means of replenishing nitrogen in soils. Getting young people involved in agriculture was also heavy on the AGRF agenda. Given that the average age of the African farmer is 60 years and well over 60% of the continent's population is under 25, the survival of the sector is largely dependent on making this a reality. It was determined that this could be made possible via engaging young people in entrepreneurial programs that get them interested and involved in agriculture. According to COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya, youth should receive the financial support and market access to allow them to participate in agriculture as part of a business enterprise. The target of the AU in 2014 was for at least 30% of the continent's young people to be employed in agriculture; which is now viewed as a rapidly growing sector predicted to be valued at $1 trillion dollars by 2030. A most crucial talking point was the support for women farmers who were described as the backbone of the industry. Much of this support can come from financial institutions who can develop tailor-made financial products for women, as well as provide


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

extension services, inputs and technologies to help women produce more and better access markets to help improve their income. This was backed up by the Zambian agricultural minister Given Lubinda, who pledged that women farmers will receive a significant portion of the one million hectares of land being allocated to agriculture in the country; increasing the portion from the initial 30% previously promised. These and other commitments will be revisited at the next AGRF, which is due to be held early 2016 in Kenya.

Highlights of the 2nd Global Food Security Conference in Ithaca: Focus on Africa The second international conference on Global Food Security was held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York from the 11th to the 14th of October 2015. The conference was host to over 600 participants from more than 60 countries, with a diverse range of research agendas. Given the food and nutrition security situation in Africa, it was evident that research on the continent would take centre stage.

Dr. Keiron Audain University of Zambia

Key African Speakers The conference was host to two African plenary speakers, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Eleni Gabre-Madhin. In her talk, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda from the Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in South Africa, highlighted the daunting reality that Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where stunting remains high and is increasing (as recently reported in the Global Nutrition Report 2015); thus severely compromising the cognitive development of Africa's future workforce. Her call to action was for increased investment in both research and infrastructure; adding that food and nutrition policy makers are more likely to respond to advice that is evidenced-based. She emphasised the need for increased collaboration among different sectors and stakeholders, which will increase the continent's capacity to cope with the complexity of its problems. Eleni Gabre-Madhin from Eleni LLC in Ethiopia noted that small-scale markets in all regions except for Africa are reclaiming control over pricing their commodities. She pointed out that farmers throughout Africa are likely to benefit from increased access to low-cost market information via the utilisation of new technology and the establishment of new institutions such as the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, which she pioneered in 2008.

Key Oral Presentations by African Researchers Researchers from the International Potato Centre in Uganda discussed the importance of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, with emphasis on biofortified orange-flesh sweetpotato (OFSP) to improve vitamin A intake; an initiative that could be effectively scaled up with the support of farmer cooperatives, community health workers and government programs. In West Africa, where rice is a popular staple crop, researchers from the Africa Rice Centre in Benin, the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, and the University of Gaston Berger in Senegal shed light on the effective impact of farmers cultivating improved rice varieties for the reduction of food insecurity and rural poverty within the region. The losses of leafy-vegetables along the supply chain in the Kwara State, Nigeria was quantified by researchers from the University of Ilorin; which highlighted the need for


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

investment in improved post-harvest handling methods, transportation and processing facilities.

Key Collaborations with African Institutions Much of the research presented involved collaborative efforts between African and international institutions. A collaborative study among researchers from Cornell and Michigan State University in USA, Western University in Canada, and the University of Malawi, explored the role of agroecological methods in promoting sustainable agriculture. Initiatives such as crop diversification and the use of legume residue were shown to be effective at improving soil fertility as well as boosting food security. A joint research effort between the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and the University of Goettingen in Germany presented empirical evidence of the nutritional impact of sustainability standards among Ugandan smallholder farmers; revealing that calorie and micronutrient consumption, as well as household income and gender equity could be increased if farmers became certified to produce and export high-value crops such as coffee, tea, cocoa and tropical fruits. Collaborative work by Columbia University and George Washington University in USA and the (Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Centre in Senegal consisted of the dissemination of different delivery modes of nutrition education to promote behaviour change and improved horticultural technologies within an existing agricultural development project.. Linkages between the production of food and its nutrient diversity in relation to disease susceptibility was explored in work conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia and the research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in Kenya; with the aim of providing a platform to assess the effectiveness of food production and nutrient diversification strategies in Ethiopia, in light of the high prevalence of blindness, which is linked to vitamin A deficiency. The Lund University in Sweden and the University of Ghana assessed both the prevalence of urban food security as well as the role of urban agriculture in alleviating food insecurity in Ghana. Agricultural practices within small and medium-sized cities were described as both an important source of food as well as a source of supplementary income for households that engage in it. Similar work was presented by researchers from Bowen University in Nigeria, which additionally found that a lack of training and space were major constraints to urban households adopting agricultural practices. Researchers at the Indaba Agricultural Research Institute in Zambia and Michigan State University in the US evaluated market access levels of farmers for maize, which is crucial given the importance of maize as a key staple crop in much of Southern Africa. It was determined that in light of constraints such as poor road infrastructure, many rural farmers sold their produce directly on the farms. Research conducted at the World Agroforestry Center in Kenya assessed the impact that investing in sustainable intensification would have on the food security status of farming communities in rural Kenya; which was largely dependent on farm size and wealth status.

Conclusion Overall, the conference provided an insight into the depth of research related to food security in Africa and across the world. More importantly, it highlighted the increase in


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

communication and collaboration across disciplines, sectors and regions; all of which is necessary to confront the complex food security issues and to repair the broken global food system.

Danone Nations Cup, Morocco 2015: Focus on nutrition education for young athletes

Dr. Iris Iglesia Altaba University of Zaragoza Spain

Marrakesh, 24 October 2015 - Danone Institute International, the University of Zaragoza (Spain) and Nutrociência/UNIFESP (Brazil), in partnership with Feeding Difficulties Center/Pensi Institute/Sabara Children´s Hospital created an educational program based on nutrition applied during Danone Nations Cup international finals (DNC), which this year edition was celebrated in Marrakesh (Morocco). Its aim was to obtain prevalence estimates of self-reported behaviours in children engaged in the competition and to compare these estimates and their correlates between countries/regions; as well as promoting nutritional education throughout 3 activities which key messages were: importance of drinking more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, and eat more milk and dairy products. The program consisted in the application of questionnaires before and after the implementation of the educational activities (international finals).

Nutrition education stand at the DNC 2015. Marrakech, Morocco (Photo: Ali Jafri)

Strategy roadmap to reduce added salt in commercial bread in Morocco

Dr. Ali Jafri Research associate University Hassan II Casablanca Morocco

Casablanca, 21 January 2016 - The Research Group in Human Nutrition (RGHN) at URAC34 Ben M'Sik Faculty of Science, University Hassan II of Casablanca, has organized on January 21, 2016 a scientific meeting for the study and debate on the strategical orientations for reducing salt consumption in Morocco, under the theme : Follow up and assessment of the reduction and the use of salt in transformed foods. This event was organized with the partnership of the national federation of bakeries and pastries (NFBP) and with the participation of officials from the health ministry, food industry (federation of millers, salt producers, cheese producers, producers of deli meat, Unilever), and representatives of the civil society (non-profits).


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

A summary of epidemiological national situation has been made (hypertension: 33.6% in 2000 according to the Ministry of Health, 41% in 2008 according to the WHO) the progress in the process of reducing salt and its health effects has been made, nationally with conformity with the department of health's orientations, and internationally. WHO recommendations for daily salt intake have been set to 5g, while estimations of the daily intake in Morocco exceeds this recommendation. The meeting has been concluded by the renewal of the involvement of the NFBP by decreasing gradually added salt in bread from 18 to 10 grams per kilogram by the year 2020, and by the signing a partnership with the RGHN for the execution of a program of follow up and assessment of the reduction of added salt in bread.

The 7th edition of the African Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (#ANEC7) goes to Marrakesh Morocco




Website : Contact for the International Scientific Committee : Paul Amuna, Chair. Email: Contact for the Local Organizing Committee: Abdellatif Bour, Chair. Email: Ali Jafri, Communication officer. Email:


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Profiles Reported by Dr. Elom Aglago

Fré Pepping Fré, you founded the French-Speaking African Nutrition Leadership Programme in 2007. Could you share with us what motivated you to establish such a programme?

Fré Pepping, Ph.D. Founding member of Anglophone and Francophone African Nutrition Leadership programmes

My own PhD supervisors have been very supportive of the leadership programmes, Professor Jo Hautvast was one of the founding fathers of ENLP (European Nutrition Leadership Programme) and Professor Clive West was responsible for ENLP for several years. Hautvast and I, together with the people from North-west University in Potchefstroom, took up the challenge of putting together ANLP in 2001 when I was on sabbatical in South Africa. Then in 2005 I was approached by Nada Benajiba (ANLP 2002) to establish a leadership initiative for West Africa. Originally Kraft Foods was very interested but in 2007 we started with Danone International Institute as the main sponsor. At that time, in 2007, one of our main drivers was to keep people connected/involved in the area of nutrition. In those days we had no initiatives such as SUN. Today PLAN is celebrating its 5th edition, what has been achieved so far? The small core group has managed to set up five editions within 8 years and with a good website up and running since 2012 we managed to maintain contacts with the alumni. The 2012 group stayed in close contact with each other and managed to maintain a certain momentum. Do you have regular contacts with PLAN alumni (the PLANistes, ndrl) and how are they still paving the leadership roles in their respective countries and institutions? Oh, yes. Several alumni came to courses/scientific meetings in Wageningen (my home base) and I met several of them during ECOWAS-meetings and IUNS meetings. The 2012 group kept each other informed about their activities and informed us all about initiatives in their home countries. We are aware that Africa needs leaders in nutrition, more than other continents, while considering the big and secular challenges we are still facing. Do you think that PLAN, which trains 25 candidates at each edition, will sufficiently handle the leadership gap in French Speaking Africa? Yes and no. We have to be realistic. Not all of the > 500 people that attended ENLP over the past 20 years are still active in the field of nutrition in Europe at the moment.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

That will be the same for Africa. We will see people taking up leading positions in the area of nutrition in West Africa that have not attended PLAN or ANLP. Some national or regional programmes of international donor agencies might be able to include some sort of leadership training activities in their work plan. You are a founding member of ANLP (South Africa). ANLP was inspired by the European Nutrition Leadership Program (ENLP), and PLAN was further established on both programs. What is unique about PLAN compared with ANLP and ENLP? The good thing about ENLP, ANLP and PLAN is that their core activities on leadership are all inspired by the same approach. It is so nice that the same persons that do certain parts in ENLP are also teaching in PLAN. PLAN has a little bit more â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nutrition case studiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, ENLP has some more 1 to 1 feedback for participants. Do you think Africa is on the right track? Definitely Africa as a whole is making good progress and we see a large number of people being trained in the field of nutrition in some countries. Political unrest can easily destroy progress and we see this unfortunately also in West Africa. Final word about PLAN PLAN has a solid base now in Morocco/Kenitra. I am very happy that we managed to involved younger people from the region such as Roger Sodjinou and Dia Sanou.

Interview with Mrs Ramou Karki (Niger) at the francophone Nutrition Leadership Programme (PLAN)

Adamou Ramatou Karki Niger PLAN 2015 delegate

My name is Adamou Ramatou Karki, I live in Niamey, Niger and work as a Health and Nutrition Technician. I am a specialist in breastfeeding, infant and young child health, and have had a wonderful responsibility of coordinating activities to promote breastfeeding at national level for 8 years. I evaluated the baby-friendly hospitals initiative during my time at UNICEF and WHO; and set up maternal breastfeeding support groups throughout the country. I have trained over a thousand health workers on ground; I framed the end of nutrition graduate students to higher health institute. In addition, I teach in health schools (National Institute of Public Health- ISP) and have supervised the thesis of undergraduate students. In Niger I am known as the ambassador for breast-feeding and received an award from the First Lady of Niger and the Minister of Health. What motivated you to apply for PLAN 2015? I was motivated by a Nigerien alumni who participated in PLAN and works in the same department as me. You have been accepted to participate in PLAN 2015 and you are the only Nigerien amongst 27 selected candidates, how do you feel about that?


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

It was a real challenge for me when I submitted my application given the high number of Nigerian candidates with diverse levels. But when I learned that I had been selected, it gave me more confidence in myself, I understood that the competencies I have gained in past courses have been in my favor in this selection. What was your experience of PLAN ? It is a very rich program of courses with diverse themes, a well-filled schedule and experienced trainers who supported us during the journey for leadership. It is a highlevel training that enabled us to gain a lot of useful and diverse skills to help strengthen nutrition policies and strategies in Africa. Niger is a country vulnerable nutritionally because of the desert and arid climate. Do you think that the previous participation of Nigeriens in PLAN, as well as yours currently, is helping the country in the fight against malnutrition? Yes the participation of Nigerians in PLAN is an undeniable asset in the fight against malnutrition because this training has helped develop many capacities over the last three sessions. You were nick named "Mama Diamond," during the PLAN, can you explain the story behind this evocative name? "Mama Diamond" is a personal initiative to the cause of maternal and child health. Niger as a needy country has been looking for solidarity initiatives. I seized the opportunity offered by social networks to gather around this theme of all women interested in humanitarian issues and women's leadership. This allowed me to gather more than eight hundred women across all continents. We have brought joy and smiles to hospitalized sick women and abandoned children during our first performance in Niger. We gather clothes, foods, school furniture and anything anyone can bring together and we share it with those with limited resources of the country. How will you make your participation in PLAN profitable to your country after all? First, I will write a report of the training to my directorate. To this end I intend to present some of the lessons learned during PLAN to help others so that together we can move forward and implement our national strategies on nutrition and relevant arguments accordingly. Is there anything else you would like to add? One of my old dreams has come true. I remember the day I finished my studies in 1991, and finally returned to Niger; when I was leaving my country, I prayed to God not to return as a student but as an accomplished professional to help my country to emerge on the health front. Now I am proud of my life and what Niger is becoming in the field of nutrition.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Expectation for the ANLP: opinions from a soonto-be alumni Afua Atuobi-Yeboah was born in Accra, Ghana’s capital, as the first of four children. She had her education at the University Basic Schools, the Aburi Girls’ Senior High School, and the University of Ghana, Legon, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science in 2007, and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition in 2010. She has a Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Legon. Afua has worked on several research projects at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science. Presently, she is a Field Manager on the Nutrition Links Project, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development (DFATD), Canada, and seeks to strengthen the capacity of low-income households in the Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region to reduce disease vulnerability, malnutrition and poverty. Afua is currently (2015-2016) a fellow of the prestigious mentoring programme, the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Programme. She is a member of the Ghana Nutrition Association, the African Nutrition Society, the American Society for Nutrition, and the African Nutrition Graduate Students’ Network, where she serves on the Constitutional Review Committee. Afua is excited to be selected for the 2016 African Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP). Why did you apply and what do you expect from ANLP? I am always happy to grab an opportunity that can develop my leadership potential. Over the years, I have heard so much about the ANLP from senior colleagues who previously participated in the programme, I learnt about it during the African Nutrition Epidemiology Conference held in Ghana in 2014, and I have read about it from the programme’s website and other blogs. I have learnt about the many skills the ANLP teaches using both theoretical and practical approaches, and heard about the fun games and the top team-building and leadership training exercises that are hallmarks of the programme. I have been told that ANLP will offer me a great opportunity to know many people, and thereby expand my professional network within Africa and perhaps even beyond. Therefore, I applied to attend next year’s ANLP because I see the programme as a unique opportunity to develop myself. My expectation is to come out of ANLP with more leadership skills. Because people from diverse cultural background participate in the ANLP, I expect to become more culturally responsive and competent after participating in the programme. Finally, I expect ANLP to offer me the opportunity to share my experience with other ANLP participants, and thereby increase my visibility among my peers. What are you thoughts on leadership in Africa? I think Africa has seen, and continues to see, many great leaders. In the field of Nutrition, where I am most familiar, we have leaders like Prof. Anna Lartey of FAO Headquarters and Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Director of the AWARD Programme. But there is no doubt that Africa has challenges with leadership, and there is always the need to develop new leaders to face the future. It is everyone’s hope that we will have great leaders in Africa who will help translate our massive resources to real gains for our people, particularly women and children. We need leaders to improve our economies, and help fight the persistent problems of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition on our continent.


African Nutrition Matters -- Winter 2016

Focus on African scientists Felicitas Pswarayi

Felicitas Pswarayi University of Zimbabwe

Felicitas Pswarayi, a Food Science and Technology lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, has been awarded a Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship in 2015 to pursue a PhD in Food Microbiology and Probiotics. The Faculty for the Future Programme provides fellowships to support women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) from the developing world to undertake postgraduate studies at leading universities worldwide. Fellowships are awarded based on the applicant’s leadership qualities, academic ability, and engagement towards science and education as a development tool in their home countries. As a Faculty for the Future fellow, Ms Pswarayi will receive a grant of up to $50,000 a year to support her research on the potential of mahewu (a traditional cereal fermented food) as a dietary source of probiotic bacteria for use in the prevention of childhood diarrhoea. Her PhD research project focuses on the interactions of pathogenic and probiotic microorganisms for improving human health. Felicitas will investigate the probiotic potential and antimicrobial activity of lactic acid bacteria isolated from mahewu, a traditional fermented food produced at the household level in Zimbabwe. The research hopes to obtain new strains of probiotic lactic acid bacteria with anti-diarrheal effects that could be used in the development of functional fermented foods. Diarrheal diseases are a major public health problem in Zimbabwe, and reducing their incidence is an important goal. Felicitas obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and Biological Sciences from the University of Zimbabwe in 1987. After working for ten years in various technical positions in the food industry she was granted an academic staff development fellowship by the Zimbabwean Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre to be used at a university of her choice. She chose to attend the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and in 1999 she gained an MSc in Food Technology. As a postgraduate student at the University of Reading, she became interested in the use of probiotics for the exclusion of food borne pathogens and protection against diarrhoea. She then worked as a research scientist and as a quality manager in the food industry, buttressed by participation in the British Council's Leadership Development Programme with the University of Exeter, UK (2001 – 2003). In 2008 she returned to the University of Zimbabwe as a lecturer. She is undertaking her PhD studies at the University of Alberta in Canada. After attaining her PhD, Felicitas intends to provide academic leadership as a senior lecturer, supervisor of postgraduate students, and Chair of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Family Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe. The Schlumberger Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Recognizing the link between science, engineering, technology and socio-economic development, as well as the key role of education in realizing individual potential, the Schlumberger Foundation’s flagship programme is the Faculty for the Future.


African Nutrition Matters ISSN: 2412-3757 Publication by the African Nutrition Society Volume 4 No. 5 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Winter 2016

Profile for African Nutrition Matters

Issue of Winter 2016  

African Nutrition Matters. Vol 4 No. 5 - Focus on nutrition leadership in Africa

Issue of Winter 2016  

African Nutrition Matters. Vol 4 No. 5 - Focus on nutrition leadership in Africa

Profile for anmatters

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