Understanding the nature, processes, drivers and governance of local food systems is a key priority to identify leverage points. To this end RAISE-FS has designed and implementing a Rapid Food System Appraisal approach to generate qualitative insights on key food system challenges and opportunities by engaging local stakeholders in action research. The Rapid food system appraisal is a methodological approach developed within the context of the RAISE-FS project. The RFSA process comprises a sequence of steps that consecutively build on one another to provide a diverse and integrated perspective on the current food system situation, key challenges and opportunities.

Dr. Dawit Alemu, making introductory remarks

The project organized a two-and half-day orientation training to regional multi-disciplinary RFSA team from 10 to 12th of August 2022 at Hillside Hotel in Adama town. Dr. Dawit Alemu, SWR Ethiopia country representative and RAISE-FS project manager, stated in his introductory remarks, “There is a big expectation from the RFSA exercise to feed the national food system road map with latest and significant food system information.” Dr. Dawit expressed his gratitude to everyone who attended the orientation training and emphasized the importance of everyone participating actively.

Facilitators of the orientation training expressed the objective of the training and the overall expectation from the RFSA process. The objective of the orientation training is to familiarize participants about the RFSA, the tools that will be used and how they will use them. The training included detailed planning of the activities that will take place. As support for the orientation training, support materials were and shared to participants prior to the training to guide and support participants in the RFSA process. These materials include short introduction videos with presentations on the different tools, a facilitator tool guide and reporting templates. More than 60 individuals who are part of the multidisciplinary facilitators’ teams attended the orientation training from three regions, namely Amhara, Oromia and South.

Orientation training participants in group exercise

Participants were engaged in group work where all participants were divided into six multi-disciplinary teams and they were assigned to exercise the RFSA taking their respective woredas and kebeles as a case. Through this interactive session and group work, it was showcased that RFSA multi-disciplinary teams internalized the approach and can facilitate the field work more effectively and efficiently.

Following the orientation training, the multidisciplinary facilitator teams travelled to their respective regions, woredas and Kebele’s in question to engage in actual field level exercise. Per woreda, 2 kebeles have been selected. In each selected kebeles a 2-day workshop was drawn from the experiences and expert knowledge of local stakeholders who took part in the fieldwork. Using the developed tools, local stakeholders reflected on the current situation of their food system, identifying key challenges and opportunities. Semi-structured questions, covering all the facets of the food system guided group dialogues and focus group discussions deepening reflections on how to approach the aspire food system transformations.

Community mapping, Hawassa Zuria woreda
Community mapping, Dankaka kebele Ada woreda

During the first day of the fieldwork stakeholders engaged in focus group dialogues aimed at the design of a community map which integrates different features, dynamics and behaviours of the local food system. In addition, they generated an activity calendar, illustrating how different types of activities are scheduled throughout the year. On the second day semi-structured focus group discussions and key informant interviews were facilitated to zoom in into food system features and elements, in order to respond to in-depth questions related to the five outcome areas.

Documentation, processing, and analysis will be done on the information and insights gathered. The Woreda food system profile, which offers a condensed picture of the current status, dynamics, and behaviour of the local food system, is the main output of the RFSA at this level. Then, a two-day workshop on priority setting and validation at the woreda level will be held. Participants in this session include stakeholders from institutions in the aforementioned Woreda and Kebeles as well as stakeholders who were present during the field-based appraisal.

In the final step of the rapid food system appraisal, the input from previous steps is consolidated and utilized to craft woreda level implementation plans and collaboration agreements. These plans contain concrete activities, and a food system implementation plan that revolves around commodity-cantered cases at woreda level.

Finally, through a participatory, multi-level multi-stakeholder process, involving Federal level institutions, regional level institutions, Woreda and Kebele level stakeholders, RAISE-FS will develop integrated food system implementation plans and collaboration agreements geared towards the creation of resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems.

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