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How can the integration of gender and youth data optimize the effectiveness of food security and nutrition interventions in West Africa?

2 July 2024

The African Center for Equitable Development (ACED) is intensifying its efforts to integrate gender and youth data into food security and nutrition (FSN) interventions in West Africa. This strategic initiative is part of our mission to promote equitable and sustainable development in the region, recognizing the crucial importance of an inclusive approach to address the complex food challenges the region faces.

Women and youth: essential pillars of African food systems

In-depth analyses conducted by ACED have highlighted the fundamental role that women and youth play in African food systems. These groups are often at the heart of food production, processing, and distribution, contributing significantly to the food security of their communities. However, our research has also revealed persistent challenges related to their systemic marginalization.

Women, for example, represent a large share of the agricultural workforce in West Africa but face disproportionate obstacles in accessing productive resources, credit, and markets. Youth, on the other hand, constitute a major demographic force with considerable innovation potential but are often excluded from decision-making processes and face a lack of opportunities in the agricultural sector.

The integration of gender and youth data is therefore an essential lever to optimize the effectiveness and inclusiveness of food security and nutrition interventions in West Africa. This approach allows for the design of policies and programs that truly respond to the needs and realities of these crucial groups, thus maximizing their impact on overall food security.

Overcoming obstacles for better integration

Following a rapid systematic review and consultations with various stakeholders, including local organizations, gender experts, and youth leaders, three major obstacles to the effective integration of gender and youth data were identified:

  • Lack of capacity among project managers: Many professionals lack specific training on collecting, analyzing, and using gender- and age-disaggregated data.
  • Impact of cultural norms: Deeply ingrained societal perceptions regarding gender roles and the place of youth in society can hinder the full participation of these groups and the recognition of their contribution.
  • Lack of appropriate incentive mechanisms: There are few structures or policies that actively encourage the systematic integration of gender and youth perspectives in FSN interventions.

In response to these challenges, ACED is developing innovative strategies based on sector best practices and adapted to the West African context. These strategies aim to create an environment conducive to meaningful and sustainable integration of gender and youth data.

A tailored capacity building program

Recognizing the central role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in implementing FSN interventions, ACED has designed a capacity building program specifically targeting these actors. This program, developed in collaboration with gender and youth specialists and development practitioners, aims to fill identified gaps and equip NGOs with the necessary skills to effectively integrate gender and youth perspectives into their work.

The selection of program participants will be carried out through a rigorous process, taking into account criteria such as commitment to gender equality, experience working with youth, geographical reach, and potential impact. This approach aims to maximize the multiplier effect of the program and ensure a balanced representation of different regions and areas of intervention.

Next steps: concrete tools for change

Our activities continue with the development and deployment of a series of tools and resources designed to facilitate the practical integration of gender and youth data:

Intensive training sessions will be organized, covering topics such as methodologies for collecting gender- and youth-sensitive data, their intersectional analysis, and integration strategies.

A detailed manual will be published, offering step-by-step guidelines on integrating gender and youth considerations at each phase of FSN interventions, from design to evaluation.

An online learning platform will be launched, offering interactive modules, case studies, and additional resources. This course will be available in French and English to ensure wide accessibility in the region.

These resources are designed to be practical, adaptable, and directly applicable to the realities on the ground in West Africa. They aim to equip local actors with the necessary tools for better integration of gender and youth perspectives in their FSN interventions, thus contributing to more equitable and sustainable outcomes.

This ambitious approach benefits from the support of key strategic partners, notably Save The Children's GAYA program, funded by USAID.