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Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come

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Better nutrition research for Africa

Unlike in other regions of the world, the nutritional status of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has not improved in recent years. It is therefore essential to organise and identify priorities for nutrition research in the region.

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The EU-funded 'Sustainable nutrition research for Africa in the years to come' (SUNRAY) project contributed to this area of investigation by producing a nutrition research agenda and a revised approach for action within the continent. Initially, a state-of-the-art analysis of nutrition research in Africa was conducted. Published research showed that the evidence base is generally focused on treatment and technical solutions to nutritional problems. SUNRAY findings, in contrast, showed a clear demand from African stakeholders to introduce community-based interventions to prevent nutritional problems. During the project, African nutrition researchers and government staff participated in three regional workshops to define themed priority areas for nutrition research. The findings were further developed during an international consultation round. These discussions addressed three areas: identifying emerging environmental challenges and their implications for nutrition, assessing current research in Africa, and setting priorities for future research. One clear finding here was that a systematic approach is needed to rationalise nutrition research in SSA on a long-term basis. Main project outcomes were a selection of priorities for nutrition research in Africa and a roadmap, defined in collaboration with African stakeholders. This knowledge was summarised in an academic paper and disseminated to relevant parties. The scope and objective of SUNRAY clearly has important implications for ways in which African researchers can address current challenges related to nutrition in Africa. In addition, the project will contribute to developing mitigation strategies for the impact of environmental challenges on nutrition in the continent. This will not only create awareness, but also contribute to the empowerment of African researchers to develop an African response to current and emerging challenges.

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