Notes on integrating gender and nutrition within agricultural extension services in Sierra Leone
The Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services project in Sierra Leone is housed in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology, Njala University. As a central engagement, the project has launched a network of extension service providers from the public, nongovernmental, and private sectors working together to play a critical role in strengthening gender and nutrition knowledge and practices within extension services, by empowering women while engaging men.
| ||Njala staff and students, and extension partners review current curriculum.|
INGENAES organized a two-day curriculum review workshop held May 17-18, 2017. Participants focused on integrating gender and nutrition concepts and activities into pre-service extension training. INGENAES collaborated with Njala University and the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology (DAERS) to review and upgrade the curriculum for their bachelor’s degree program with the aim of integrating gender-responsive and nutrition-sensitive agricultural development programs into the curriculum.
“The process of curriculum review will enable the university to produce quality extension graduates that will help to strengthened the national extension division” Aiah J. Tholley, Director of Extension, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security in Sierra Leone.
During the workshop, lecturers presented their current course outlines then explored the GFRAS New Extensionist learning kit and INGENAES resources, including gender and nutrition related tip sheets and training materials. Stakeholders then divided into groups to share ideas and experiences, bringing about relevant information and best practices on current and emerging issues concerning the agricultural extension-gender-nutrition nexus. At the end of the day, extension stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, nongovernmental organizations, Njala University administration and staff, USAID representatives, and present and past students of (DAERS) worked together to identify gaps, constraints and opportunities in integrating gender and nutrition within agricultural extension services.
The DAERS and the Njala-based INGENAES team would like to hear from you and host you for a visit to campus to learn about how the curriculum developments can enhance your organization's work and impacts on women, men, and youth farmers. See contact below.
Njala University has been working with partners including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Cultural Practice, LLC to mentor students with both theory and field practical experiences.
50 Undergraduate students in the School of Agriculture, staff and INGENAES coordination team conducted a community outreach program to Gbongbma village Kori chiefdom Moyamba District to identify issues surrounding Gender and Nutrition at household level and to gain first hand field experience through focus group discussions drama and songs. Community members were encourage to eat more of what they grow and avoid food myths that discourage the consumption of protein food by children. In this way, households can improve their nutrition and encourage women's participation in decision-making in community development.
INGENAES in Sierra Leone encourages experiential learning and practical mentoring opportunities for students. Please reach out if you would like to share your work or seek technical support from our NU student teams.
This March, INGENAES organized two gender and nutrition workshops to help reduce gender gaps in agricultural extension services, increase women`s empowerment, and improve gender and nutrition integration within extension programs in Sierra Leone. One workshop introduced key concepts and action-oriented training methods to network members and Njala staff and students, while providing a space for open conversations. The other focused on market-driven agricultural extension training for Feed the Future implementing partners in Tonkolili district. Participants learned practical, action-oriented tools and exercises that extension providers can use to promote gender equity and nutrition sensitivity to targeted audiences, strengthening their capacity to address gender issues in a transformative manner. The workshops are designed to enable extension trainers and facilitators to integrate nutrition and gender sensitivity in farmer training activities and staff training. The INGENAES network in Sierra Leone are now better equipped to share knowledge and skills within their organizations.
“Learning how to facilitate a practical and participatory workshop without the use of electronic media is the most beneficial as most of our clients are illiterate” says Sheka Sesay, WorldFish Staff.
During the different workshop sessions, participants:
- Examined; the roles and responsibilities of men and women within the rural household, on the farm, and in the community.
- Explored; gender stereotypes and the impact they have on the lives of women/girls and men/boys.
- Investigated; power hierarchies and power relations between women and men with an emphasis on “power over” v. “power with.”
- Analyzed; the amount and type of food available to members of a “typical” rural household.
- Discussed; the components of a nutritionally balanced meal with emphasis on the needs of all family members, especially pregnant, lactating women and young girls.
- Created; an agricultural value chain for small-scale, subsistence enterprises, such as rice, fish, or cassava, focusing on gender and nutrition issues.
“Because of this workshop I have learned how to distribute food for different family members at household level in order to improve household nutrition” says Christiana Sesay, a student at Njala University.
The INGENAES coordination team is currently reconnecting with workshop participants to track follow up actions and evaluate impacts. Your stories about how the INGENAES workshops improved your abilities to promote gender equality and improved nutrition through your extension programs could be featured in future newsletters. Email us (ExtensionStrengtheningNetwork@gmail.com) to submit a story!
Staff (from left to right): Adolphus J. Johnson, Team Leader; Fatmata Binta Jalloh, Co-Coordinator; Augustine Amara, Project Research Assistant; Colby Silvert, In-Country Project Specialist
Contact us at: EXTENSIONstrengtheningNetwork@gmail.com