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16 April 2024

Meet SIANI’s expert groups

Beekeping Nepal

One of the 2024 expert groups focuses on bee keeping and pollination, with six Living Labs in South and Southeast Asia.

Photo: Lotta Fabricius Kristiansen

How can actors in Latin America come together to explore connections between land rights, food security, and climate change? Which lessons can be learned from innovative One Health approaches to WaSH in Burkina Faso? Can the production and use of agrobiologicals in East Africa be ramped up? How can a greater focus on bees and biodiversity improve livelihoods for local communities in South Asia? Meet the SIANI expert groups who have set out to answer these questions.

SIANI forms partnerships with expert groups that drive forward-looking projects related to sustainable, rights-based and inclusive food systems. During the project period, usually around 15 months, the groups carry out activities on a topic they have identified as especially important to their context. They continuously receive support from SIANI and share their experiences with the SIANI network.

Here is a first update from the groups who started at the beginning of 2024. They are now in the process of developing their workplans and getting to know relevant stakeholders.

Land rights in Latin America

In Latin America, a regional group has been formed to focus on land rights for local communities and indigenous people as well as food security considering current development agendas and climate change. The group consists of NGOs, activists, researchers, and academics from 10 Latin American countries and is coordinated by SIPRI and Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Together, they want to formulate a regional response to the rights violations and food insecurity many rural and indigenous populations face.

The aim is to raise awareness of the situation and point to potential solutions for a just distribution of land rights, food security, and food sovereignty. The group seeks to engage with policymakers both in Latin America and elsewhere, as well as peace and development experts. In May, they will, for example, present at the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development and meet with policymakers and interested parties in the city of Berlin, facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. At a time of growing competition over land in many parts of the world, the findings of this expert group will likely be interesting to many members of the SIANI network.

Learn more about the Land rights in Latin America group.

Pollination in South Asia

A SIANI expert group in South and Southeast Asia has the theme Pollination knowledge exchange for food, nutrition and livelihood security. Coordinated by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, they work with communities that set up Living Labs to understand more about ways to strengthen pollination, food security, nutrition and livelihoods locally.

Four Living Labs have already been established – two each in India and Sri Lanka – and two more are starting in Laos and Nepal. The knowledge gained will help the group formulate transformative policy recommendations and practices for pollination services and beekeeping. This understanding could also benefit the entire SIANI network since there are many knowledge gaps when it comes to the recovery and conservation of pollinators in agricultural landscapes.

Learn more about the Pollination in Asia group.

Waste recovery in Burkina Faso

Actors in Burkina Faso have pioneered solutions to simultaneously improve rural sanitation and increase agricultural yields. Now a new SIANI expert group will synthesize knowledge from earlier projects where organic matter from human and animal waste has been recycled, while also considering zoonotic risks related to sanitation and animal keeping. The group is led by the Agency for Training, Research, and Expertise in Health for Africa (AFRICSanté) in Burkina Faso. They seek to establish a community of practice for integrating aspects like agricultural production, environmental protection and animal-related health risks when designing water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) interventions.

The results will help SIANI members in different parts of the world get a better understanding of the connections between WaSH and the One Health approach that simultaneously considers human, animal and environmental health. Focus is both on minimizing health risks, including zoonosis, and identifying opportunities related to the recycling of nutrients and organic matter from human and animal waste.

Learn more about the group on Waste recovery in Burkina Faso.

Agrobiologicals in East Africa

The expert group on agrobiologicals seeks to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers. One of the key challenges for sustainably increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers in East Africa is minimal production and use of biobased fertilizers and methods to control crop pests. The group explores ways to increase access to these resources through local production of agrobiologicals.

Coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute Africa, the East African expert group will bring together local actors to co-generate knowledge and pathways for increased agrobiological use in the region. The group will also advise policymakers on measures that could strengthen East Africa’s agrobiology sector.

As global interest in agrobiology is growing, the insights from this group will contribute towards knowledge shared with SIANI members also in other parts of the world.

Learn more about the Agrobiologicals in East Africa group.

The role of SIANI’s expert groups

SIANI has collaborated with expert groups for many years and the concept has proved to be very successful. The idea is to support local or regional teams that run projects to make food systems more sustainable, rights-based and inclusive. This does not only lead to local change, but the insights of the expert groups are also continuously shared with SIANI’s members.

SIANI’s Programme Director Madeleine Fogde emphasizes how the expert groups strengthen the entire SIANI network:

“The expert groups play an important role in generating new knowledge on emerging topics in low-income contexts, connecting SIANI members in Sweden and internationally. By their very nature, the groups serve as concrete examples of the multisector dialogue and action around sustainable food systems that are at the core of the SIANI mission.”

The multisector aspect is crucial – the group members should come from different sectors like NGOs, governments, the private sector and academia. They also help elevate the voices of youth, smallholder farmers and groups who are underrepresented or marginalised. Through this approach, the groups can contribute to a more holistic understanding of important issues and raise perspectives that deserve more attention.

How to become the next SIANI expert group

SIANI invites new expert groups through an open call. We are currently accepting proposals for the next round – read more here and apply by 9 June 2024.