All hands on board
Sitting by the bank of the popular Vaal river this evening, I could not help but reflect on what I have learnt from my ANLP training up to this point. A popular song came to mind “we are the world we are the people, we are the ones to make the world a better place, so let’s start giving” (Michael Jackson). As if other participants of the ANLP had read my exact thoughts, dinner started with a karaoke of the same song. It was clear that at this point we all shared this common vision and felt a sense of responsibility to make a difference on the African continent.
I recalled receiving a nutrition degree 10 years ago and being unsure of how I could contribute to nutrition in my country. In my view, there were enough nutrition officers and health workers already providing nutrition education to the communities that needed help. I joined a research institution but quickly realized that most of the research findings ended up as shelved reports with little impact. I yearned to join the United Nations because I recognized that they had a clear vision that I wanted to be part of. Thus, I lost interest in my research position simply because I felt trapped and unproductive.
As I sat in the Nutrition Leadership in Africa session today, I asked why this was the first time I was hearing about all these competences: policy development and implementation and evidence generation and contextualization of best practices. Nutrition in Africa is at a crossroad and we cannot continue to do business as usual to achieve the desired impact. To make a difference we need to work on the necessary competencies needed for nutrition impact.
I now realize that the perception that I needed to work with the United Nations to make a nutrition impact in my country was misguided. Was this as a result of my ignorance that my job was an opportunity to make a nutrition impact through generating evidence? or Was it because my department’s research was not informed by nutrition policy and implementation needs?
My earnest plea is that you take some time to ponder over this question:
What is you niche area and what can you do in your country context to promote nutrition impact?
(Strategic Communication Committee)