Partnership for Food Security in EthiopiaJuly 7, 2016
In January 2016 I was fortunate to spend four weeks in Addis Ababa through my volunteer work with CESO. It was a wonderful experience, both personally and professionally. It highlighted the importance of partnership between individuals and organizations to achieve a common goal.
During my visit, I drafted two needs assessments to guide the current partnership between CESO and the Micronutrient Initiative (MI). These needs assessments were created for MI’s flagship programs in Ethiopia – the universal salt iodization program and the national food fortification initiative. In my assessment, I identified the expertise and skills offered by CESO and its volunteers needed to support the technical knowledge within MI in the area of micronutrients. My background in food and nutrition allowed me to understand the day-to-day challenges faced by MI, Ethiopia’s Public Health Department, and the National Government in providing a sustainable solution to salt iodization, and in creating a basic food fortification strategy.
My stay in Addis Ababa gave me the opportunity to further my understanding by meeting with different stakeholders about information on the current situation. It was gratifying to witness the dedication of the nutrition and food professionals in their quest for a sustainable salt iodization and food fortification plan for the country. After numerous interviews, including a remote site visit to the Afar region and daily observations, I was able to provide MI with two needs assessments, outlining CESO expertise needed to further the country’s universal salt iodization and basic food fortification.
Aside from the professional experience, my immersion into the local life in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian culture was invaluable. I was present during two of the most important national holidays of the year – the time of Genet (January 7th) and Epiphany (January 20th). The Epiphany celebration was truly amazing! Being part of the repatriation of the Tabot for one of the local churches was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, providing a glimpse into the fascinating history of Ethiopia.
The partnership between CESO and MI provides an opportunity to support innovative solutions to basic food fortification and in achieving food security. The business expertise and skills that CESO VAs offer will truly complement MI’s technical capacities in micronutrient nutrition. Together the path to a sustainable solution is being greatly enhanced through this partnership.