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News Story
6 September 2017

From visual ethnography in Brazil to education in Southeast Asia: Meet our new Expert Groups

Photo by Gozha Net via Unsplash

Photo by Gozha Net via Unsplash

SIANI Expert Groups are broad-based working groups established around our vision and mission. The purpose of these groups is to convene experts on specific issues together to contribute to a holistic understanding of emerging issues in the field of food security and agricultural development. The Expert Groups consolidate knowledge and strengthen our network by enhancing interactions and cooperation between the actors within the Swedish resource base and those around the world. We run application for Expert Groups every half a year and recruit new groups with innovative exciting ideas about ways to improve food security. So, let’s see what is the new set of our Expert Groups is up to!

The world is rapidly urbanizing and now more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. Transformation of rural spaces often leads to socio-economic changes in and challenges for communities that have been relying on agriculture for generations. “Rural Change Captured Through a Youthful Lens” is an intriguing title of the project run under the supervision of David Hallberg from the Swedish Red Cross University College. The team of experts from Sweden, Cameroon and Brazil discovered it is necessary to better understand how social change and rural-urban transformation impacts young adults and adolescents.

The team came up with the idea to provide the youth in rural communities of Cameroon and Brazil with video cameras to film their daily lives. Collecting data through the eyes of a local habitant will allow to understand how rural-urban transformation impacts lives of young people. Through this research, the group aims to create an easy engaging way to understand determinants of sustainable food security and nutrition in villages in the times of high urbanization. Throughout their work the team will collaborate with local NGOs, universities and the general public and will make the data available in open access.

Another focus area for our Expert Groups this time around is food security in the drylands. “Land, Livestock and Livelihoods: The Triple L Research Initiative” lead by Eve Wredle from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU focuses on the land-use and transformation of livelihoods in West Pokot, Kenya. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of the total available land is mainly used for livestock; 25 million pastoral and 240 agro-pastoral farmers depend on livestock as their primary source of income. Many drylands are overgrazed and degraded. These lands experience recurrent famines and are an arena for conflicts over land that often result in economic and political marginalization of pastoralist communities. Through a workshop with major stakeholders, The Triple L Expert Group will promote sustainable intensification of agro-pastoralist production systems, giving special attention to poverty alleviation and gender equality.

We can’t produce food without water, and agriculture is the biggest water user. Realisation that safe sanitation is essential to food and nutrition security has also started to gain traction. In fact, food and nutrition security interventions may fail unless coordinated with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, especially in low- and middle-income countries. While safe and clean water is very important for avoiding chronic gut issues, like diarrhea, that flush out nutrients from the body, contributing to malnutrition, the waste from sanitation can be used for energy recovery and in production of fertilizers. One of our new Expert Groups aims to tide sanitation, food production and water together and see how working on the interconnections between WASH, food production and nutrition security can help build resilience in poor communities. The Group is led by Helfridt Schulte-Herbrüggen from the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH. Overcoming silos between management of food and water is one of the main culprits.  The Expert Group is identifying 10 examples from cross-sectoral WASH, food and nutrition projects from low- and middle-income countries. The case studies will be presented at workshops and through SIANI means of communication. The Expert Group will provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience between practitioners, researchers and the private sector, while providing a resource for anyone interested to explore case studies.

Sustainable Develop Goal 2, End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” is the vision for SIANI operation. All our Expert Groups are working within this vision, but one of them, Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture and Food systems in Southeast Asia, works on the linkages between SDG 2 and SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The aim is to understand and improve the roles of universities play in rural communities and how can they support sustainable livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The group is going to act as a facilitator and promoter of this vision among universities, farmers and the development & cooperation community in Southeast Asia. This Expert Group is led by Wayes Nelles who is a Visiting Scholar at Chulalongkorn University School of Agricultural Resources (CUSAR) in Thailand.

So, in this term we are focusing on the youth and rural transformation, on the connection between the WASH sector and food security, on the resilience in the drylands and on the ways to improve education for better food security. Stay tuned with the news from our Expert Groups and the results from their work via our website and by following our social media channels!