Asian Mega-Deltas Initiative workshop evaluates strategies to address challenges in deltaic food systems

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The Nutrition-Sensitive Deltaic Agri-Food Systems Research Design and Planning Workshop, held from October 2-4, 2023, at the WorldFish Campus in Penang, marked the second annual meeting of researchers and partners affiliated with the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas (AMD) Work Package 2 (WP2).

The event’s primary focus was to evaluate the previous year’s progress, refine strategies, and address challenges within the deltaic food systems. The workshop aimed to enhance AMD’s activities towards nutrition security in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Cambodia and Vietnam.

The workshop’s objectives encompassed a comprehensive assessment of achievements and challenges, refinement of existing strategies and Theory of Change (TOC), exchange of successful interventions and research findings, identification of focused action areas for 2024, and determination of resource allocation strategies.

Dr. Khondker Murshed-e-Jahan, co-lead of AMD and WP2 lead, provided significant insights into ongoing research activities. Notably, the WP2 team is working on quantifying socially differentiated nutrition outcomes of food systems transformation through various surveys and data analyses in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The team is also collaborating with partners to analyze longitudinal data and engaging with relevant ministries to disseminate nutrition messages to the broader community.

The workshop’s themes encompassed Consumption Shifts of the Asian Mega-Deltas, Exploring Preliminary Insights into Nutritious Agri-food Systems, and Policy and Intervention Perspectives for a Nutrition-Sensitive Agri-food System in the Asian Mega Delta. These topics delved into analyzing diet transformation, household food consumption patterns, and policy reviews to strengthen nutrition-sensitive agri-food systems across the regions.

The workshop also provided a glimpse into upcoming research collaboration, including a comprehensive review of nutrition-sensitive interventions in the agri-food systems of Bangladesh and urban food consumption patterns surveys in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Additionally, preliminary insights from Cambodia highlighted gender-sensitive agri-food systems interventions and the importance of integrating gender-sensitive approaches in research strategies.

As the workshop concluded, the research and discussions are set to shape the country work plan of WP2 for 2024, fueling hope for meaningful interventions and tangible progress in the coming year.

In 2024, the key focus for Bangladesh includes activities such as assessing the impact of recent price hikes on food consumption patterns, demonstrating nutrition-sensitive intervention in specific regions, and studying food vendors in rural and urban areas. The communication plan involves activities such as creating manuscripts and blogs on relevant topics, and conducting a Delta Talk webinar on policy aspects and food consumption patterns.

For Cambodia, the major activities for 2024 involve a planning workshop, analysis of urban consumption data, consultative workshop coordination, and intervention implementation. The communication plan includes a range of activities such as blogs and briefs, AMD talks, and manuscripts focused on factors conditioning diet quality and nutritional adequacy, food vendors, and changes in food consumption over time.

Vietnam’s major activities for 2024 include conducting consultation meetings, co-developing training materials, organizing consultation events with stakeholders, and developing a framework analysis for publication and food balance sheet.

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