Panel Q&As

Questions & Answers from Panel 1

Question: Do you have organizations that promote underutilized species/crops that favor dry land areas in areas you are working?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: Yes several of them, mainly Community-based organisations/village green enterprises that transform and add value to non-timber forest products (NTFP), mostly known at local levels – for improved nutrition and also income generation. A good example is  Sahara Sahel Foods (see NTFP value chains developed at:

Questions & Answers from Panel 3

Question: How do we move the non-forest foods produced by communities from being niche and expensive foods to the mainstream food markets? Also how to educate non-rural communities on the benefits of such foods?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: Good question! There is no simple answer, the reasons which have pushed us towards relying on just a handful of species are many – certainly land-use changes have been a key driver of biodiversity loss. Indeed education is key – many of these communities are well aware of the benefits of these foods, but this know-how in some parts of the world is eroding due to marketing, global communication trends, cultural shifts and even education favouring more processed and less healthy foods. This has contributed to malnutrition in communities that have depended in part on wild foods, particularly Indigenous Peoples, youth, but also vulnerable women during pregnancy and lactation. So sensitization to counter these trends and preserve local knowledge is important, merged with scientific information on the specific nutritional benefits for different segments of society (as well as ecological properties). There are different ways communities can be educated – food festivals, cooking demonstrations and even school feeding programmes have all proven successful.

Question for Moctar Sacande: Is there any household dietary diversity or child nutrition related information being collected in the intervention areas?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: “Data collected so far covers a range of socio-economic and biophysical data. With reference to food security and nutrition, questionnaires included a set of generic questions guided by the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale for Measurement of Food Access related to three domains of food security: 1) anxiety and uncertainty about the household food supply; 2) insufficient quality; and 3) insufficient food intake and its physical consequences. Each country adapted the questions according to its national context. You can read more here. We are now programming our next phase and we aim to collect more detailed information on dietary diversity (e.g. MDD-W) and household food consumption, including relative contribution of wild/forest foods.”

Question for Moctar Sacande: Is there any experience in community based forest management? There was some very good experiences in the approach. The Burush experience in North Darfur was an outstanding one during the 1980s. Have these approaches been replicated and supported?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: “Absolutely, a core part of our restoration interventions rely on merging local knowledge, know how and community priorities about what to plant into our activities. This has a big impact on the success of our interventions.Most of our interventions rely in fact on community consultations and training to empower communities to have “village technicians” which lead restoration efforts.  You can read more about this here.”

Question: From  the four presentations it is evident that inter-sectoral integration is key to addressing malnutrition. How can integration be effectively achieved in the Arid contexts especially in contexts where donor/government funded projects are to a large extent siloed?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: Indeed, this highlights the importance of cross-fertilization resulting from seminars like these where different sectors can exchange knowledge and expertise. We at AAD are situated in the Forestry Department at FAO but we are in close contact with our colleagues in nutrition and agriculture departments for guidance on issues such as nutrition and diet, nutrition-sensitive interventions, etc. This approach is fundamental to achieving real impact on the ground. Our experience shows that although it may be difficult, it is not impossible! Read more about our interventions here.

Question: Dryland areas and particularly Sahelian countries such as Burkina, Mali and Niger are not only facing challenges on accessing water in quantity and quality for their basic human needs, but they are facing insecurity due to terrorist attacks leading to massive population displacements (IDPs). Could you share any experience in addressing malnutrition for IDPs?

Answer from Moctar Sacande: Insecurity in the Sahel is a massive challenge for projects like the Great Green Wall, which works with communities on the ground. Recent attacks in Burkina Faso/Mali/Niger is not helping the situation – many displaced populations. For Action Against Desertification, some of these sites/plots have been completely abandoned in those areas. However many of the plots/sites in the safer southern areas that we started restoring while before the attacks are now used by the displaced populations for farming, providing them with activities and a bit of crops… But the situation is not sustainable and definitely need attention and to improve for these vulnerable communities…

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