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One would think that given the many studies demonstrating the importance of integrating nutrition and livelihood considerations into agricultural programs, there would be several real world instances of nutrition-led agricultural interventions carried out effectively and to scale. Not the case.

Frustrated with sideways outcomes of increased agricultural productivity without commensurate positive dietary and nutrition-related outcomes, the NCBA CLUSA International in collaboration with local Senegalese and international organizations pioneered the USAID-funded Yaajeende Project in Senegal in November 2010.

Structured as a 5 year program (11/1/2005 – 06/30/2015), Yaajeende is one of the longest-running USAID-Feed the Future projects to date, and it heavily emphasizes agriculture-nutrition integration from household-level implementation to high-level governmental and private sector coordination, targeting young children under 5 and women of reproductive age for improvements in health and livelihoods.

The YAAJEENDE team is tasked with the improvement of the food security and nutrition of 1million individuals, in 100,000 households across 60 Communuatés Ruraux, in four regions of Senegal plus the Department of Bakel–beginning in Matam, Kédougou and Tambacounda. Of these 100,000 households, 15,000 are categorized as very poor, and a minimum project goal is to improve the nutritional status and food security of at least 150,000 people occupying these impoverished households.

Key activities include promotion of wild foods, preservation of local foods, meal fortification using local food, gardens and iodized salt, distribution of vitamin A and deworming medicine, behavior change communication/information, education and communication (BCC/IEC) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities. The project differs from other similar initiatives because it leads with nutrition, focuses on women, integrates research, and fosters a local private sector. The private sector aspect is particularly innovative as it involves the use of a Community Based Solution Provider model which has revolutionized smallholder and household access to both nutritional and agricultural products and services.

One of the team’s first tasks was the establishment of 1000 Community Based Service Providers (CBSP) for the provision of input supplies, agricultural services and nutritional products to rural people on a commission basis, with the goal that total sales of inputs and services provided through the CBSP network plus the total commodity sales of produced outputs would equal $30 million by Year 5.

Increased economic activity resulting from the establishment of the CBSPs is expected to result in a 250% improvement in the household incomes of farmer participants by an average of 250%, reduced stunting in target zones by 25%, and reduced numbers of underweight children by 35%.

Some of the project impact to date include;

  • The establishment of a network of 427 trained community nutrition volunteers
  • Training of more than 3,300 people on how to make flour suitable for infants at home and more than 7,300 people have been trained on food processing techniques that will allow for longer storage of nutrient rich foods at home.
  • More than 60,000 people have attended 5,274 health talks
  • Education of 2,000 school aged students on micronutrient deficiency and its prevention through school competitions.
  • After a campaign to sell iodized salt in project villages, a drop in the number of homes not using iodized salt from 39 to 22 percent.
  • Formation of mother-to-mother groups in 2012 comprising 57,847 women who learned about health and nutrition
  • Training of more than 17,300 people on WASH technologies.

Below is the Yaajeende story in pictures. Enjoy and share. Given the massive amount of funding that is poured into international development efforts each day with almost no real, measurable outcome, it warms my heart when I come across a program that actually seems to be making an impact on the people that actually matter on the ground, and my joy is made even more complete when agriculture is at the center of this sort of progress in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Up:…we really should get back to SAP 🙂

Sources:

Counterpart.com – http://www.counterpart.org/our-work/projects/yaajeende

USAID – http://www.spring-nutrition.org/events/getting-how-improving-nutrition-senegal-through-nutrition-led-agriculture

Feed The Future – http://www.feedthefuture.gov/

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