The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) announced on the 3rd November 2014 that they have been awarded a research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to implement a project entitled Improving Nutrition Outcomes through Optimized Agricultural Interventions (ATONU), which seeks to improve nutrition outcomes in smallholder farm families and poor households through tailored nutrition-sensitive agriculture programmes that will ultimately benefit women of child bearing age, infants and toddlers.
The NRI was an integral part of the team that developed the winning proposal, along with consortium members including the Africa Innovations Institute in Uganda, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, Agribusiness Systems International, an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, Farm Africa, the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. The USD 16 million grant for this project is to cover the ATONU consortium members for the six-year period ending in December 2020. The focus countries for the project are: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda.
A major emphasis of the ATONU project will be women’s empowerment. Considering that 80% of food produced in Africa passes through the hands of women, yet their hands are tied when it comes to making decisions about agriculture and household expenditure, the reason for this project's research focus becomes clear. Previous research also shows that when women are empowered to make decisions related to food production, children's health, nutrition and education improve.
It certainly seems fitting that FANRPAN’s announcement of the grant coincided with the Africa Day for Food Security and Nutrition Security, whose theme this year is Accelerated Action for a Hunger Free Africa. The CEO of FANRPAN and ATONU Project Director, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, sums up, “the grant award will help close the gap between the agriculture and nutrition communities who have to work together and bring to bear what agriculture can do for nutrition in farm families”.