Strengthening Ethiopia’s food systems: SHiFT hosts workshop to design new training program

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Researchers from the CGIAR Research Initiative on Sustainable Healthy Diets through Food Systems Transformation (SHiFT) welcomed a group of experts and partners from Ethiopia on October 18-19, 2023, to design a training of trainers (ToT) program on food systems transformation. The ToT design workshop was led by Belay Terefe Mengesha from the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, alongside Marion Herens and Kat Pittore from the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI).

Part of SHiFT’s Work Package 5, the ToT program aims to engage stakeholders and strengthen capacity in Ethiopia’s food systems. After launching an e-course on Food Systems Governance in 2022, SHiFT’s national partners, also known as Strategic Partners, in Ethiopia identified a need for follow-up trainings held face-to-face. More recently, the Ethiopian Food Systems Transformation and Nutrition Inter-ministerial Steering Committee (EFS Steering Committee), which is co-led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health (both Strategic Partners of SHiFT), began developing a food systems training manual. The manual intends to establish a unified message and approach for all capacity sharing efforts related to food systems in Ethiopia. A key goal of the ToT design workshop was to determine how SHiFT can align with and support this process.

The workshop focused on identifying key components for the ToT program tailored to Ethiopia’s context, concentrating on food systems transformation, sustainable healthy diets, and multi-stakeholder processes. Participants assessed content and delivery methods that align with the Ethiopia Food System Synthesis Report. Discussions revolved around knowledge about sustainable healthy diets, competencies for sharing knowledge with key stakeholders, and essential capacities needed for successful ToT development and implementation.

A highlight of the workshop was a presentation by Dr. Mulugeta Teamir, Senior Advisor for the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture program, who provided an overview of Ethiopia’s Food System Transformation agenda. Dr. Mulugeta discussed the food systems training manual, emphasizing the importance of developing a comprehensive resource that all partners in Ethiopia can utilize.

Through interactive sessions, workshop participants joined small groups to discuss strengths, challenges, and stakeholder interactions specific to each sector. They identified training topics, potential trainers, and key audiences. A role-play exercise prompted participants to consider the competencies and approaches required to effectively reach target groups. Participants’ feedback suggested that the ToT program synergize with the EFS Steering Committee-led food systems training manual development, consider local contexts in Ethiopia, and encompass diverse aspects of food systems.

The ToT program seeks to expand the pool of experts in Ethiopia who possess capacities and skills related to food systems transformation and sustainable healthy diets. Using insights gained from the design workshop, SHiFT’s Strategic Partners will continue to work on a ToT approach in Ethiopia. A face-to-face pilot training is anticipated to take place in 2024 followed by subsequent training courses in diverse contexts across Ethiopia.

The International Food Policy Research Institute and the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT lead SHiFT in close collaboration with Wageningen University and Research and with contributions from the International Potato Center. SHiFT combines high-quality nutritional and social science research capacity with development partnerships to generate innovative, robust solutions that contribute to healthier, more sustainable dietary choices and consumption of sustainable healthy diets. It builds on CGIAR’s unparalleled track record of agricultural research for development, including ten years of work on food systems and nutrition under the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH).

Header image: SHiFT Strategic Partners meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to design the ToT program; October 18-19, 2023. Photo provided by Belay Terefe Mengesha/Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT.

This news item was written by Sydney Honeycutt, Communications Consultant. 

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