Capacity building for nutrition education

Nutrition Education in Afghanistan

Title: Supporting the Improvement of Household Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods in Afghanistan

Country: Afghanistan

Duration: 2005 - 2007

Responsible Ministries/institutions/partnerships, including UN: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock



  • Build capacity of relevant and other partner institutions at central, provincial and local levels;
  • Create, support and promote community-based food security and nutrition initiatives in food insecure areas;
  • Increase knowledge and awareness of nutrition, food security and livelihoods at central, provincial and local levels;
  • Incorporate household food security, nutrition and livelihoods issues into relevant Afghanistan policies and projects.

Critical problem identified and addressed by the project:

  • Root causes of malnutrition and food insecurity:
    • breakdown of the economic system,
    • dependence on subsistence agriculture,
    • degradation of natural resources,
    • difficult climatic conditions, and
    • limited knowledge of adequate feeding practices, especially for young children and women.

Project Outcomes:

  • Main activities completed: 
    1. Nutrition Education
      • Built network of partners which disseminate nutrition education at provincial and community levels, by integrating basic nutrition education in ongoing development projects. 
      • Achieved a better understanding local feeding practices and beliefs, including cooking and food processing methods. 
      • Developed locally adapted nutrition education materials, which help transfer practical skills to household, thus enabling them to put into practice the nutrition knowledge they acquired.
      • Initiated school gardening pilot project in 8 schools, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF through the ‘Healthy Schools Initiative'.
      • Delivered Basic Nutrition Education training (directly or indirectly) to over 1200 community-level workers from 25 agencies and government departments. 
        • Training reached an estimated 29,000 beneficiaries. 
        • Training materials used were nutrition education booklets and posters prepared by the Ministry of Public Health (joint publication) with support from Tufts University and the American Red Cross, all in collaboration with UNICEF
    2. Collaboration with NGOs
      • Integrated nutrition program with Taga Bagh Cluster Level Development Committee, (in collaboration with Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN))
        • construction of 2 greenhouses,
        • established a livestock group,
        • dug wells,
        • disseminated of Nutritional Education in the community (including child-to-child education);
        • Functional literacy
      • Integrated nutrition program with Qonoq Cluster Level Development Committee
        • construction of 5 greenhouses,
        • provision of Nutrition Education (incl. child-to-child education)

Main results:

  • The national staff used the skills acquired through trainings by implementing a community-based livelihoods project in a Kabul suburb. They also developed their own nutrition training module and provided nutrition trainings to NGO partners in Kabul area, with FAO staff support.
  • Three manuals were created to be used by literate community-level trainers. These manuals are accompanied by training aides adapted to illiterate trainees. The manuals can also serve as a basis for developing media campaigns (TV, radio) and other communication tools (e.g. plays).

Catalytic effects/impact:

  • Clear priorities with regards to food security interventions as well as clear implementation strategies (including identification of good partners) were established through:
    • The creation of networks of partners for disseminating nutrition education,
    • Through feedback from households receiving nutrition education, and
    • From the discussions in working group meetings on food security.
  • A follow-up project has been created. Its aim is to expand the methods, tools and guidelines developed. Through capacity building of government staff in health and agriculture and through partnerships with NGOs, the project will enable expansion and outreach to needy communities and families.

Project strengths/successes:

  • Government department staff benefited from the various trainings organised at provincial level by the project team.
  • Three provincial extension workers attended the food processing training in Pakistan.
  • Gender awareness workshops were successfully held in each province.

Project constraints:

  • Training local staff was challenging:
    • No home economic officers were in place;
    • Extension workers tended to have too many other activities if available, and,
      Because local staff were men, they did not have access to women.
  • Project staff workload
    • Due to the project staff workload, and prioritisation of other manuals, draft guidelines were not finalised during the course of the project.
    • No other agency or project was working specifically on food-based nutrition education.

last updated:  Friday, January 8, 2016