Annual Reports

CoE-FS Annual Report 2021

In 2021, the extension of the State of Disaster, additional waves of COVID-19 infections and the emergence of the Omicron variant continued to shape both the research environment of the CoE-FS as well as global, national and local food systems. In our 2021 Annual Progress Report, we document the work of the CoE-FS, in the context of the above.

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CoE-FS Annual Report 2020

The events of 2020 highlighted the importance of the research and capacity development that is undertaken by the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS). The unprecedented measures put in place to slow the pace of new infections of COVID-19 had an immediate and direct impact on household food security. Overall, the access and utilisation dimensions of food and nutrition security may be compromised into the future. Long-lasting structural changes seem likely due to the jobs and livelihoods that have been lost: food price increases arising both from speculation, increased costs and value-chain disruptions; and changes in diet...

read
CoE-FS Annual Report 2019

In 2019 the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), National Research Foundation (NRF), and the Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) concluded the process of responding to the recommendations arising from the mid-term review. This Annual Report reflects on the achievements, challenges and the lessons learnt from this process while also providing detail on progress on the core mandate of the CoE-FS.

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joint publications

Food Systems Profile – South Africa: Catalysing the sustainable and inclusive transformation of food systems

Year of publication: 2022 Place of publication: Rome, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; Montpellier, France; Pages: #50 p. ISBN: 978-92-5-136209-9 Author: FAO, European Union, CIRAD By Country/Territory: South Africa Publisher: FAO; European Union ; CIRAD; Agrovoc: food systems; food consumption; sustainability; South Africa Abstract: Food systems are intimately linked to our lives – through the food we eat, our nutrition and health, our livelihoods, jobs, and the environment and natural resources of the planet. The main challenge for food systems is to produce nutritious food for all while preserving our biodiversity and environment and ensuring equitable distribution of wealth. This Food Systems Profile provides a summary of the main food system issues...

read
Food Dialogues Report 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the shortcomings of the national and global food systems, the 2020 Food Dialogues came at an opportune time; bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health and economic consequences of the virus and their mitigation. This report weaves together common threads from the wide range of speakers, topics, themes, and talks. It aims to be a resource that others can draw upon for guidance in shaping policies, activism,...

read
The right to food of students in tertiary institutions in South Africa

The right to food in South Africa is recognised and guaranteed in various laws at the international regional and national level. Access to adequate food is a serious challenge across the globe, leading to hunger and malnutrition. Currently, 1 in 8 people worldwide go hungry every day. In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the second of which is to end hunger by 2030 and ensure that no one anywhere in the world is hungry or malnourished. Although South Africa is striving to meet the SDGs, hunger remains pervasive, with millions of people in the...

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policy briefs


working papers

Investigating the South African food insecurity paradox: A systematic review of food system governance in South Africa

South Africa presents a paradox of a country which is nationally food secure, with a wealth of institutions and targeted food policies, a strong research system and developed social welfare programmes, but where under- and over-nutrition persist. This paradox has major consequences for the people and the economy, and the importance of food and nutrition insecurity has resulted in massive research investment and analyses over the last decades. This was a major incentive for engaging in a systematic literature review with the objectives of providing a synthesis of what is known with regard to food system governance in South...

read
Engaging civil society organisations in food security governance in the Western Cape: Reflections from emergency food relief during COVID

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, South Africa was experiencing a food crisis but this was deepened and made more visceral by the subsequent lockdown. Low-income households bore the brunt of this economic and social shock: 3 million jobs were lost; two in every five adults reported that their household lost its main source of income; existing government-funded feeding schemes (including the National School Nutrition Programme) closed; and government support, in the form of extended social grants, was slow to be paid out. These manifestations of lockdown had a grave effect on food security: 47% of adults reported that their...

read
Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design – A Blueprint for a Future South African City?

South Africa’s demographic profile is predominantly urban. As a result of our history, South Africa’s food system was largely an urban food system before the country’s demographic shift to being predominantly urban. It is therefore strange, that one of the key public goods, food, is absent from almost all urban planning and wider urban governance practices and strategic thinking. Central to ensuring equitable developmental opportunities for all is access to safe, affordable and nutritious food. The current urban system does not provide equitable access, with many having to contend with unequal and unjust food system outcomes. Responding to this...

read

Research Reports

Hands-on Anthropometry: A South African Handbook for Large-Scale Nutrition Studies

Anthropometry, the science of measuring and evaluating human body size and proportions, is the backbone of most nutrition surveys and a core component of nutrition assessment. The purpose of this manual is to: • outline equipment requirements, • detail the training of fieldworkers and • provide guidelines for quality assurance procedures for basic anthropometric measurements of able-bodied persons in multi-site research studies. The emphasis is on the South African setting, especially for tertiary education and research institutions, when numerous fieldworkers must be trained to take anthropometric measurements for a research study.

read
SUPERMARKETS, STREET TRADERS AND SPAZA SHOPS: SPATIAL DETERMINANTS OF FORMAL RETAILERS’ IMPACT ON INFORMAL MICRO-ENTERPRISES IN PHILIPPI, CAPE TOWN

There is growing concern around the impact of formal retailers and supermarkets, in particular on marginalised urban communities in developing countries. This report unpacks the impact of formal retailers on informal micro-enterprises through a case study in Philippi East township, Cape Town. The cases focuses on a high street precinct which encompasses a number of formal food retailers and supermarkets. Supermarkets are the main supply of household food (in value terms), with residents spending about one third of their food purchases at one of three outlets.

read
THE DETERMINANTS OF STUNTING AT AGE TWO: A HOLISTIC MODEL FOR SOUTH AFRICA USING THE BIRTH TO TWENTY COHORT STUDY

In this report, we examine the determinants of child malnutrition using the Birth to Twenty data, a cohort study of children born in Soweto-Johannesburg in 1990. In particular, we focus on the causes of low height-for-age, or stunting, at age two, the measure most commonly used to capture chronic undernutrition in children. The consequences of stunting in early childhood have been widely studied across various disciplines, and include impaired cognitive function, poor schooling outcomes, reduced earnings in adulthood and poor maternal reproductive health outcomes (Walker, Chang, Powell & Grantham-McGregor, 2005; Victora et al. 2008; Dewey & Begum, 2011).

read

Annual Reports

CoE-FS Annual Report 2021

In 2021, the extension of the State of Disaster, additional waves of COVID-19 infections and the emergence of the Omicron variant continued to shape both the research environment of the CoE-FS as well as global, national and local food systems. In our 2021 Annual Progress Report, we document the work of the CoE-FS, in the context of the above.

read
CoE-FS Annual Report 2020

The events of 2020 highlighted the importance of the research and capacity development that is undertaken by the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS). The unprecedented measures put in place to slow the pace of new infections of COVID-19 had an immediate and direct impact on household food security. Overall, the access and utilisation dimensions of food and nutrition security may be compromised into the future. Long-lasting structural changes seem likely due to the jobs and livelihoods that have been lost: food price increases arising both from speculation, increased costs and value-chain disruptions; and changes in diet...

read
CoE-FS Annual Report 2019

In 2019 the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), National Research Foundation (NRF), and the Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) concluded the process of responding to the recommendations arising from the mid-term review. This Annual Report reflects on the achievements, challenges and the lessons learnt from this process while also providing detail on progress on the core mandate of the CoE-FS.

read
Biennial Report 2017 – 2018

This Biennial Report reflects research achievements and activities undertaken at the Centre of Excellence in Food Security, for the period 2017-2018. Since 2016, we have focused on and committed to a comprehensive and integrated programme of research.

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CoE-FS Annual Report 2016

As might be anticipated, research at the Centre of Excellence in Food Security in 2016 has generated a plethora of results at different levels of detail, innovation and impact. This information is provided in the body of the annual report and in the publications listed in the appendices.

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CoE-FS Annual Report 2015

The DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS), hosted by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and co-hosted by the University of Pretoria (UP), was launched on 15th April, 2014. Transdisciplinary research, capacity development, knowledge sharing and engagement activities are underway to fill strategy and policy knowledge gaps and to realise food security for poor, vulnerable and marginal populations. This is in line with our goal to become the leading hub of knowledge production on food security and nutrition in Africa.

read

joint publications

Food Systems Profile – South Africa: Catalysing the sustainable and inclusive transformation of food systems

Year of publication: 2022 Place of publication: Rome, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; Montpellier, France; Pages: #50 p. ISBN: 978-92-5-136209-9 Author: FAO, European Union, CIRAD By Country/Territory: South Africa Publisher: FAO; European Union ; CIRAD; Agrovoc: food systems; food consumption; sustainability; South Africa Abstract: Food systems are intimately linked to our lives – through the food we eat, our nutrition and health, our livelihoods, jobs, and the environment and natural resources of the planet. The main challenge for food systems is to produce nutritious food for all while preserving our biodiversity and environment and ensuring equitable distribution of wealth. This Food Systems Profile provides a summary of the main food system issues...

read
Food Dialogues Report 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the shortcomings of the national and global food systems, the 2020 Food Dialogues came at an opportune time; bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health and economic consequences of the virus and their mitigation. This report weaves together common threads from the wide range of speakers, topics, themes, and talks. It aims to be a resource that others can draw upon for guidance in shaping policies, activism,...

read
The right to food of students in tertiary institutions in South Africa

The right to food in South Africa is recognised and guaranteed in various laws at the international regional and national level. Access to adequate food is a serious challenge across the globe, leading to hunger and malnutrition. Currently, 1 in 8 people worldwide go hungry every day. In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the second of which is to end hunger by 2030 and ensure that no one anywhere in the world is hungry or malnourished. Although South Africa is striving to meet the SDGs, hunger remains pervasive, with millions of people in the...

read
What price cheap goods? Survivalists, informalists and competition in the township retail grocery trade

About 54% of South Africa’s township microenterprises trade in food or drink. More than two-thirds of these are grocery retail businesses in the form of spaza shops and smaller ‘house shops’. These are the predominant businesses within the ‘township economy’ and play an important role in food security, self-employment and community cohesion. In the last decade, the business of spaza shops (dedicated, signposted businesses with a range of foodstuffs and open five days per week or more) has undergone extensive change towards a new class of entrepreneurial traders – mostly foreign nationals. This change has meant that the sector...

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Effects of different souring methods on the protein quality and iron and zinc bioaccessibilities of non‐alcoholic beverages from sorghum and amaranth

Souring by lactic acid fermentation and lactic acid acidification as well as inclusion of amaranth were explored as ways of improving the protein quality and iron and zinc bioaccessibilities of non‐alcoholic sorghum‐based beverages. The bioaccessible iron and zinc increased by 128–372%, 24–194%, respectively, in the fermented and chemically acidified beverages compared to the beverages without fermentation or acidification. The protein digestibility, reactive lysine, and bioaccessible iron in sorghum‐amaranth beverages increased by 14–58%, 24–52% and 34–64%, respectively, compared with the 100% sorghum beverages. Both fermentation and acidification with lactic acid have the potentials for improving the nutritional quality of cereal‐based...

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Organic Food Systems Meeting the Needs of Southern Africa

Organic agriculture world-wide allows farmers to produce healthy food with low levels of external inputs, and often shortens the value chains, giving farmers a higher share of the consumer dollar. This book reports on long-term comparative organic farming systems research trials carried out over the last four years in South Africa’s Southern Cape, as well as research on the organic sector and the technical tools it requires in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania. The trials show how the yield gap between organic and conventional crops was closed over 3 years. Water use efficiency was also greater in the...

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Foaming properties of total zein, total kafirin and pre-gelatinized maize starch blends at alkaline pH

The effect of 0.1 M NaOH as a solvent and blending with pre-gelatinized maize starch on the foaming properties of laboratory extracted total zein and total kafirin were determined. Both total zein and total kafirin in 0.1 M NaOH were found to have higher foaming capacity (up to 118% foam volume increase) compared to their non-foaming (0% foam volume increase) properties in water. Blending with pre-gelatinized maize starch reduced the foam volume but increased the foam stability to more than 24 h. Total zein and total zein-pre-gelatinized starch blends had relatively higher foaming capacity than total kafirin and total kafirin-pre-gelatinized starch blends...

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Food fermentation and mycotoxin detoxification: An African perspective

Mycotoxins are toxigenic fungal secondary metabolites and known carcinogens that pose a significant threat to economies, trade, health and compromises food safety. Favourable environmental conditions on the African continent encourage the proliferation of fungal species, increasing the possibility of attendant mycotoxins to be present in foods, a situation that aggravates challenges to address them. Due to the susceptibility of common food crops to these toxins and the general inability of some conventional food processes to eliminate them, they are found in derived/processed foods. Detoxification and reduction of mycotoxins in the food chain still remains a significant topic necessitating a...

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Assessment of nutritional and phytochemical quality of Dawadawa (an African fermented condiment) produced from Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea)

This study investigated the nutritional composition, antinutrients and phenolic composition of raw, hulled and dehulled Bambara groundnuts (BGN) (Vigna subterranea) and their derived dawadawa products. Phenolic compounds were investigated using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/Q-TOF-MS) system while determination of amino acids and mineral contents were done using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), respectively. Oxalate, tannin and phytic acids were quantified while microstructure of the samples was viewed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results showed a decrease in quinic acid, medioresinol and quercetin-3-O-galactoside-7-O-rhamnoside in all dawadawa samples. Likewise, significant (p ≤ 0.05) increases were observed...

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policy briefs

Civil society organisations: CSOs should have a central role in food governance

This policy brief explores the role that civil society organisations can play in addressing food security, building on its contributions during the COVID-19 lockdowns. (Colour version.) Click here to download a low-resolution, black and white version of the policy brief. Centre of Excellence in Food Security · The role of civil society organisations in addressing food insecurity in South Africa

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Urban agriculture: Quick fix for urban food insecurity or site of struggle for deep, just food systems change?

This policy brief reflects on the complexities of urban agriculture and its place in addressing food insecurity and poverty. For a full-colour PDF of the policy brief, download below. For a black and white, printer-friendly version of the policy brief, click here.

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Leveraging informal trade: Governance strategies to cultivate resilient, inclusive food economies

This policy brief explores ways in which government can support the informal economy. For a black and white, printer-friendly version of the policy brief, click here. For a full-colour PDF of the policy brief, download below.

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Foodways of the poor in South Africa: How poor people get food, what they eat, and how this shapes our food system

Foodways are the set of strategies shaping what food people choose as well as how and where they access and consume it. Informed by culture and social context, the foodways of the poor simultaneously respond to and influence food systems change. South African food systems are in a process of change. These changes are caused by many factors, including urbanisation, consolidation and concentration in food value chains, and changing dietary patterns. These transitions have important consequences for the nature of poverty and food insecurity. In this policy brief, Florian Kroll explores these links between the foodways of the poor...

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Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security in a Corporate Dominated Food System

The South African food system is capable of supplying enough food for its people either through production or trade. At the same time South Africa faces a ‘dual burden’ of malnutrition. Persistent under-nutrition exists alongside rising rates of diet-related NCDs (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers). In this policy brief, Stephen Greenberg looks at the role of the highly concentrated corporate structure of the South African food system and looks at the kinds of interventions that are needed to ensure that poor people can have an adequate diet.

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working papers

Investigating the South African food insecurity paradox: A systematic review of food system governance in South Africa

South Africa presents a paradox of a country which is nationally food secure, with a wealth of institutions and targeted food policies, a strong research system and developed social welfare programmes, but where under- and over-nutrition persist. This paradox has major consequences for the people and the economy, and the importance of food and nutrition insecurity has resulted in massive research investment and analyses over the last decades. This was a major incentive for engaging in a systematic literature review with the objectives of providing a synthesis of what is known with regard to food system governance in South...

read
Engaging civil society organisations in food security governance in the Western Cape: Reflections from emergency food relief during COVID

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, South Africa was experiencing a food crisis but this was deepened and made more visceral by the subsequent lockdown. Low-income households bore the brunt of this economic and social shock: 3 million jobs were lost; two in every five adults reported that their household lost its main source of income; existing government-funded feeding schemes (including the National School Nutrition Programme) closed; and government support, in the form of extended social grants, was slow to be paid out. These manifestations of lockdown had a grave effect on food security: 47% of adults reported that their...

read
Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design – A Blueprint for a Future South African City?

South Africa’s demographic profile is predominantly urban. As a result of our history, South Africa’s food system was largely an urban food system before the country’s demographic shift to being predominantly urban. It is therefore strange, that one of the key public goods, food, is absent from almost all urban planning and wider urban governance practices and strategic thinking. Central to ensuring equitable developmental opportunities for all is access to safe, affordable and nutritious food. The current urban system does not provide equitable access, with many having to contend with unequal and unjust food system outcomes. Responding to this...

read
A Food Charter for the Western Cape? A Critical Inquiry and Scoping Study

The idea of a food charter has been proposed in several fora by diverse organisations and individuals for several years as one potentially effective tool for addressing food system challenges in South Africa. This working paper undertakes a critical inquiry into what a charter means, historically, both internationally and nationally, the subsequent proliferation of ‘food charters’ in the ‘global north’, South Africa’s special relationship with charters, and finally their connection or lack thereof to the various proposals to undertake a food charter locally. The paper unravels some of the influences as well as presumptions about what a food charter...

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Multilevel Government, Municipalities and Food Security

Realising the right to food in South Africa requires more than an increase in food production. Increasing access to food is equally important, so this contribution adopts a ‘food systems approach’. It argues that food security is not just a national and/or provincial government concern but that the Constitution demands of municipalities to contribute to realising the right to food. Against the backdrop of a general introduction into the division of responsibilities between national, provincial and local government, it deploys two arguments to make this assertion. The first is located in the jurisprudence of the South African Constitutional Court...

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School Feeding in South Africa: What we know, what we don’t know, what we need to know, what we need to do

This working paper draws on the proceedings of a ‘National Workshop on School Feeding in South Africa’, convened in November 2017 by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Workshop participants engaged with unresolved debates in school feeding, notably its objectives and impacts, which include food security and nutrition, education access and outcomes, intergenerational poverty reduction, employment creation and support to local agriculture. In South Africa, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) currently provides meals to over 9 million learners. The NSNP has two other pillars – Nutrition Education and Deworming, and Sustainable Food Production – but 96%...

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Accountability and the right to food: A comparative study of India and South Africa

It remains a great source of concern that, as richly endowed as the world is, each day millions of people go to sleep hungry and almost 870 million people, particularly in developing countries, are chronically undernourished. Also, every year, 6 million children die, directly or indirectly, from the consequences of undernourishment and malnutrition – that is, 1 child every 5 seconds. The international community at various forums in the last twenty years or so have committed to ending undernourishment in the world. The right to adequate food is guaranteed in a number of international and regional human rights instruments....

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Food security and nutrition: Impure, complex and wicked?

By Julian May, October 2017 Food security and nutrition are receiving renewed attention in international and national policy agendas. This has been accompanied by a profusion of theoretical concepts borrowed from diverse disciplines and then employed to describe challenges to achieving food security and adequate nutrition. Complex eco-systems, wicked problems and public goods are among these.  In order to make a constructive contribution to policy debate, the underlying political economy of food security is interrogated to understand why food security problems may be indeterminate. This reveals food to be an outcome from a complex problem-determined food eco-system. The problems...

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Why does malnutrition persist in South Africa despite social grants?

According to most subjective and self-reported indicators, food security in South Africa is improving over time.  However, objectively measured anthropometric indicators record only a marginal improvement in children’s nutrition status since the early 1990s. This is despite the introduction in 1998 and subsequent expansion of the Child Support Grant, which now reaches over 11 million children in South Africa and has been found to increase food consumption and dietary diversity in poor households. How can this paradox be explained? This paper reviews the evidence on food security and child nutrition trends in South Africa and identifies several reasons why...

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Research Reports

Hands-on Anthropometry: A South African Handbook for Large-Scale Nutrition Studies

Anthropometry, the science of measuring and evaluating human body size and proportions, is the backbone of most nutrition surveys and a core component of nutrition assessment. The purpose of this manual is to: • outline equipment requirements, • detail the training of fieldworkers and • provide guidelines for quality assurance procedures for basic anthropometric measurements of able-bodied persons in multi-site research studies. The emphasis is on the South African setting, especially for tertiary education and research institutions, when numerous fieldworkers must be trained to take anthropometric measurements for a research study.

read
SUPERMARKETS, STREET TRADERS AND SPAZA SHOPS: SPATIAL DETERMINANTS OF FORMAL RETAILERS’ IMPACT ON INFORMAL MICRO-ENTERPRISES IN PHILIPPI, CAPE TOWN

There is growing concern around the impact of formal retailers and supermarkets, in particular on marginalised urban communities in developing countries. This report unpacks the impact of formal retailers on informal micro-enterprises through a case study in Philippi East township, Cape Town. The cases focuses on a high street precinct which encompasses a number of formal food retailers and supermarkets. Supermarkets are the main supply of household food (in value terms), with residents spending about one third of their food purchases at one of three outlets.

read
THE DETERMINANTS OF STUNTING AT AGE TWO: A HOLISTIC MODEL FOR SOUTH AFRICA USING THE BIRTH TO TWENTY COHORT STUDY

In this report, we examine the determinants of child malnutrition using the Birth to Twenty data, a cohort study of children born in Soweto-Johannesburg in 1990. In particular, we focus on the causes of low height-for-age, or stunting, at age two, the measure most commonly used to capture chronic undernutrition in children. The consequences of stunting in early childhood have been widely studied across various disciplines, and include impaired cognitive function, poor schooling outcomes, reduced earnings in adulthood and poor maternal reproductive health outcomes (Walker, Chang, Powell & Grantham-McGregor, 2005; Victora et al. 2008; Dewey & Begum, 2011).

read
Dietary intake assessment: 24-hour recall

Purpose of manual To describe the procedures used to collect dietary intake data using a 24-hour dietary recall method for research participants older than two years. To guide researchers to assemble a dietary kit for their study. To be used as a resource by researchers when training interviewers to conduct a 24-hour dietary recall. This manual should not be used for dietary assessment of infants. This manual does not include information on baby foods, alcoholic drinks or nutritional supplements. End-user defined Collecting, analysing and interpreting dietary intake data is a specialised field. Dietary intake data should be overseen and...

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Journal Article & book chapter links

2022-04-21, Journal Articles
Digital storytelling for policy impact: perspectives from co-producing knowledge for food system governance in South Africa

Author Camilla Adelle, Gillian Black, Florian Kroll

Publication Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice

2022-03-25, Journal Articles
The microbiome and resistome of apple fruits alter in the post-harvest period

Author Birgit Wassermann, Ahmed Abdelfattah, Henry Müller, Lise Korsten and Gabriele Berg

Publication Environmental Microbiome

2021-04-26, Journal Articles
Fostering communities of practice for improved food democracy: Experiences and learning from South Africa

Author Camilla Adelle, Florian Kroll, Bruno Losch, Tristan Görgens

Publication Urban Agriculture & Regional Food Systems