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Addis Ababa grabs attention in global dialogue on accessing healthy food in Africa’s cities

Wageningen University Alumni Day reveals the strong Ethio-Netherlands collaboration to increase sustainable food and nutrition security in Ethiopia.

On the occasion of its 100th birthday (1918-2018), the Wageningen University & Research (WUR)in The Netherlands invited its alumni around the world to organize aWorldwide Alumni Day. With the support of Ethiopian WUR alumni, The Netherlands Embassy and theWUR-‘Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership’, the AgriProFocus Network in Ethiopia organized this Alumni Day on Saturday 23 June 2018at ILRI,Addis Ababa. Since WUR has proven to be unique in understanding the entire food chain, the central theme of the Alumni Day was “Access to Healthy Food in Mega Cities’.
Below follows a concise report of the day by the organizer AgriProFocus.
The Dutch-based AgriProFocusNetwork active within the agrofood sector in Ethiopia, ensured that the Alumni Day in Ethiopia consisted of a true multi-stakeholder exchange between the public, private and civil society sector on access to healthy food in Africa’s mega cities, and Ethiopia’s mega city, Addis Ababa, in specific.About 120 people showed up to listen to the keynote speakersand take part in the group discussions around food safety, food waste, urban agricultural activities and private-sector engagement in making healthy food accessible and affordable. Besides, a food fair was organized to provide the alumni and AgriProFocus Ethiopia’s local members, mainly start-ups and young agripreneurs, a chance to showcase their healthy food products. Almost 20 local private-sector actors were given this platform in order to support them in their active contribution to improve the access to healthy food for urban habitants in Ethiopia. Also, five research poster presenters were selected through a call for abstracts prior to the Alumni Day to share their evidence-based research related to the central theme of the day.
Keynote speakers Dr. Jan Willem Nibbering,the Senior Food Security Policy Officer at The Netherlands Embassy in Ethiopia and Dr. Alberto Giani from FAO Ethiopia, spoke about the need for a food system approach in order to effectively increasethe sustainability, accessibility and affordability of healthy food products for urban dwellers. They stressed that by 2030 more people will live in cities, including in Ethiopia, than in rural areas.Keynote speaker Mr. TeferraAbraha, a Wageningen University Alumna himself and currently working for the Urban Agriculture department of the Addis Ababa administration, gave a concise overview of the policy strategy regarding urban agriculture in Addis Ababa. This policy framework encourages the engagement ofgender and youth in urban agricultural activities in Addis Ababa and the need for strong multi-stakeholder collaborations in making urban food systems work for healthy food intake of urban dwellers.
All the ideas exchanged by the participants during the day were used as an input for the online worldwide dialogueorganized to invite prominent alumni and experts from Africa, Asia, South America, the US and Europe, to discuss the challenges and opportunities around access to healthy food in metropolitan cities across the globe and to identify a common ground when discussing scenarios and transitions. The WUR Alumni Day in Ethiopia was selected as one of the venues for the online dialogue, and represented the voice of Africa. The day ended with a networking reception with live music from the environmental protection youth club of Mentesenot Urban Agriculture, a grassroots organization that promotes sustainable urban agriculture and environmental protection within one of the poorest communities in Addis Ababa.
The WUR is one of the world’s leading universities with a strong focus on agriculture and food & nutrition security. With the support of The Netherlands Embassy in Ethiopia, WUR has helped spur the agricultural development in Ethiopia. WUR has invited many Ethiopians for a short course, MSc or PhD study at its university through a scholarship. In 2012 alone, a total of 116 Ethiopian MSc students were registered and an average of 65 PhD students per year were registered between 2012 and 2017. Also, more than 60 research studies  from WUR were on-going in 2017 alone. In addition, around 20 WUR projects are on-going of which ‘BENEFIT-partnership’ is the most prominent due to its strong collaborations with different Ethiopian agricultural research centers, Ethiopian universities and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery.
From a nutrition-sensitive agriculture platform with the EU Delegation in Ethiopia to a 3-day workshop with the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) to identify how to make Ethiopia’s agrofood value chains more nutrition-sensitive, AgriProFocus has already built a large reputation and will continue to explore how to use the power of its multi-stakeholder network to support its network members to increase their individual and collective impact to ensure sustainable food & nutrition security in Ethiopia.
For more information about the Wageningen University Alumni Day or the AgriProFocus Network and its partners, please send an e-mail to

By AgriProFocus Ethiopia


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