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Building the evidence-base for healthy food systems in East Africa


Food systems are undergoing a rapid transition in Africa, and this has come with significant changes to people’s diets and environments. Left unaddressed, these changes in food production and consumption will negatively impact the health of the population, for example through rising rates of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and by degrading natural ecosystems. In East Africa, 40% of all deaths are currently attributed to NCDs. By 2030, it is projected that deaths from diet-related NCDs will surpass deaths from communicable diseases, a scenario that requires significant changes to intersecting domains that include health, nutrition, agriculture and more.   

Following its inception in 2020, IDRC’s Catalyzing change for healthy and sustainable food systems (CCHeFS) initiative launched a competitive call for proposals for robust research projects to enhance the understanding of policies and interventions that could contribute to healthier and more sustainable food systems in East Africa. Out of more than 300 proposals, four teams were selected in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. They kick-started their projects in 2021. 

After their first year of implementation, each research team is already contributing to building the evidence base to transform the food environment of their respective country. These contributions include nuanced studies that are revealing the socio-economic and gendered differences in food consumption and production across different locales, and that act as either barriers or enablers to healthy and sustainable food systems.  

Find out more about the projects, meet the research teams and learn about their innovative areas of study, including how their projects could contribute to transformational change.