From Policy to Practice: JSI Works with Governments to Strengthen Food and Health Systems

December 20th, 2023 | story


Employees seal up bags of fortified maize flour at Mandela Millers Limited in Uganda. Photo by Daudi Murungi

This is the second part in a two-part series reflecting on the JSI-led USAID Advancing Nutrition project. Click here for part 1.

People’s choices matter greatly when it comes to nutrition outcomes, but so do the contexts in which they’re making those choices. Without the structures and systems to ensure that healthy food is affordable and accessible, people’s choices are limited. In part two of this series, JSI leaders share insights from their work with USAID Advancing Nutrition to strengthen government capacity and commitment to plan, finance, and implement nutrition programming and policies for stronger health and food systems.

Ghana: Championing Nutrition in Development Planning

Selorme Azumah, the chief of party of USAID Advancing Nutrition in Ghana, and his team worked with the government to plan services that promote household resilience and early childhood growth and development. Initially, convincing the government to prioritize nutrition in development planning, where quantifiable outcomes often overshadow less measurable ones, was challenging.

Selorme relied on tactics he’s used throughout his 23-year-career to make the convincing argument that prioritizing people’s health and well-being is an investment in Ghana’s future. The USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana team worked with district leaders to include nutrition and food interventions in the 17 project-supported districts’ medium-term development plans. The difference was clear: compared to previous development plans, the 2022–2025 plans had more objectives related to nutrition and higher budget allocations for this work.

USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana’s work in the districts is also informing the national conversation on nutrition programming, with the hope that the project’s training and tools will continue to be used during the 2026–⁠⁠2030 planning cycle.

Uganda: Reducing Malnutrition through Strategic Food Fortification

Pauline Okello led USAID Advancing Nutrition in Uganda, which worked to strengthen the capacity of the government to enforce and the private sector to comply with food fortification standards and regulations. Food fortification is a cost-effective, high-impact way to reduce micronutrient deficiencies that can contribute to malnutrition. In Uganda, the government has made the fortification of maize and wheat flours, salt, and edible oils and fats mandatory.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which interrupted grain imports, delayed project implementation. And while strong structures support nutrition efforts at all levels in Uganda, the project also discovered challenges related to overlapping roles and responsibilities and competing priorities within the food fortification program. In response, Pauline and her team worked with the Ministry of Health to revitalize the National Working Group on Food Fortification, an umbrella body that coordinates the government, private, civil, and academic actors involved in food fortification activities.

The private sector, as the producers of fortified foods, is a crucial programming partner. USAID Advancing Nutrition trained lead trainers to support private sector fortification and promoted the business case for wider adoption in new industries.

The training, tools, and other resources the project created will support continued private sector and government investment in food fortification for better nutrition outcomes in Uganda.

To learn more about the project and find resources, visit

By Shaina Bauman

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