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https://www.spring-nutrition.org/publications/series/nutrition-sensitive-agriculture-training-resource-package

The SPRING Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resource Package is a collection of our very best training work, including presentations, activities, handouts, and session guides.

Successful multisectoral training is key for developing the collaboration that nutrition-sensitive activities require. Successful partnerships hinge on developing a shared understanding of goals, activities, and essential concepts that allow our collaboration to thrive.

Whether you are creating a 1-hour presentation or a multi-day training workshop, these resources will help you create a solid foundation for stakeholder discussions about nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

In this training resource package, you will find the building blocks for creating a nutrition-sensitive agriculture presentation or training program that reaches program leaders, managers, and other decision-makers. We have created a training with seven sessions:

  1. Strengthening Agriculture-Nutrition Linkages: Why it Matters
  2. Essential Nutrition Concepts for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Activities
  3. Essential Concepts in Agriculture and Food Systems
  4. Agriculture-to-Nutrition Pathways
  5. Developing a Seasonal Calendar
  6. Behavior Change Concepts for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture
  7. Designing Effective Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Activities

SPRING Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resource Package: Two Perspectives

Kelly Wilson spent time as an Agricultural Consultant in Guatemala, extending her ECHO internship with the Latin America/Caribbean Regional Team and network partner Maya Health Alliance from January to July 2018. While there, she used a helpful resource called the SPRING Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resource Package. Here she shares some information about the resource, and about nutrition and agriculture.

According to “Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally” (SPRING), a USAID funded project, “cross-sectoral capacity building is essential for developing the collaboration that effective nutrition-sensitive [agriculture] activities require.” To help with this, SPRING developed the Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resource Package (SPRING 2018b). These training materials help equip program leaders, managers, and decision makers to design, implement, and document nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs. The seven modules cover essential concepts for nutrition, agriculture, agriculture-to-nutrition pathways, behavior change concepts, and effective design.  The training materials seek to create common ground for shared understanding between the fields of agriculture and nutrition.

Nutrition-oriented approaches to address malnutrition may be described as nutrition-specific or nutrition-sensitive. Nutrition-specific interventions target the immediate causes of malnutrition. Examples include micronutrient supplementation, child growth monitoring, support for breastfeeding, and treatment of severe malnutrition. By contrast, nutrition-sensitive interventions address the underlying causes of malnutrition, changing the environment that sustains it. Studies have shown that scaling up nutrition-specific interventions to cover 90 percent of the at-risk population would only address about 20 percent of chronic malnutrition, making nutrition-sensitive interventions necessary to address the remaining 80 percent (SPRING 2018a). Reducing chronic malnutrition worldwide requires integrated programming involving nutrition, agriculture, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and women’s empowerment (SPRING 2018a; Luna-González and Sørensen 2018).

An agricultural intervention—even a successful one—will not necessarily improve nutrition. To improve nutrition status, programming must intentionally include activities that are nutrition sensitive. One way to do this is to involve nutrition practitioners in the design and implementation of programs.

I experienced this firsthand as an ECHO agricultural consultant working with the Maya Health Alliance (MHA) nutrition team. As a public health organization that works with indigenous Mayan people in Guatemala, MHA has spent over a decade developing and refining a high-quality nutrition program. Now it is investigating adding a nutrition-sensitive home gardens component. A pilot project will demonstrate if this home gardens addition impacts child nutritional status. I worked on an integrated nutrition and agricultural team to design a nutrition-sensitive agriculture program, and was able to see the value of both perspectives and the necessity of the questions each one poses. Our nutritionists evaluated the proposed garden crops according to the daily nutritional requirements of growing babies, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, while our agronomist and I considered the local sources of organic matter that would keep the soil fertile and feed plants.

During the course of the home gardens program design, we implemented a Seasonal Calendar activity, drawing upon Session Five of the SPRING Training Resource Package (among other materials). The easy-to-use guides emphasize the effect that each categorical theme (such as seasons, celebrations, and food sufficiency) has on health and nutrition. The purpose of our activity was to learn about seasonal patterns of climate and crop cultivation from the women in the community where the pilot will be implemented. Having worked in the area for several years, MHA already had a good understanding of the health context, but had yet to investigate the agricultural context. Through this activity, we learned when frost would pose a problem; discovered an unanticipated month of no rain during the rainy season; and determined when crops are currently being produced. These insights were invaluable as we planned and implemented the home gardens program.

If you work on a cross-sectoral team, or hope to make your agricultural programs more nutrition sensitive, the SPRING Training Resource Package provides a common vocabulary and shared priorities that can help make your efforts more effective.

References:

Luna-González, Diana V, and Marten Sørensen. 2018. “Higher Agrobiodiversity Is Associated with Improved Dietary Diversity, but Not Child Anthropometric Status, of Mayan Achí People of Guatemala.” Public Health Nutrition 21 (11): 2128–41. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980018000617.

SPRING. 2018a. “Strengthening Agriculture-Nutrition Linkages: Why It Matters. Session Guide One of the Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resource Package.” Arlington, VA. https://www.spring-nutrition.org/sites/default/files/publications/trainingmaterials/session-1-strengthen-agri-nutr-links.pdf.

———. 2018b. “Webinar May 24 | New Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Resources.” Arlington, VA.

 

Intern Savannah Froese also explored the SPRING Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Package when she was working on a seminar presentation about nutrition. She shared the following:

 

“The SPRING resource…was helpful for my seminar, although I ended up mainly just using graphics from the resource. I mostly referenced the second session: "Essential Nutrition Concepts for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture." The information was well organized and easy to understand. The handouts were especially helpful, at least for my purposes. There were also several suggested activities that I did not use but seem to be relevant and culturally sensitive. Throughout the resources, there are "Lessons Learned" boxes that are notes from trainers around the world to help explain why the resources is written the way it is, incorporating feedback from trainings.

 

“The SPRING website in general has many good resources. If I could recommend another link…it would be to their "Agriculture and Nutrition Resource Review" page (https://www.spring-nutrition.org/technical-areas/ag-nut/resource-review). This is a list of recommended articles. Unfortunately it is organized by date reviewed and not by topic. However, I was very impressed with the quality of the research articles that I found on this page. I ended up referencing several of the articles in my seminar.”

 

SPRING recently posted an update about the project, with links to some popular resources. Take a look!  For example, this infographic illustrates five ways to improve nutrition through agriculture.