Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come (Nutrition)

Project acronym: SUNRAY

Title of project: Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come

Research area: Nutrition

Contract No: 266080

EU contribution: €968 463

Start date: January 2011

Duration: 24 months

Status: finalised

Malnutrition rates are high, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where only 9 out of 46 countries are on track to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal target of a 50% reduction in underweight prevalence among children less than five years-old. Despite the huge cost of malnutrition, investment in the nutrition sector has been insufficient.

The SUNRAY Project developed a nutrition research agenda – as defined by a wide range of African stakeholders in nutrition – and a revised approach for action to organise nutrition research on the continent.

First, a state of the art analysis of nutrition research in Africa was conducted. Published nutrition research from Africa shows how the evidence base is generally focused on treatment and technical solutions to nutritional problems. This contrasts with SUNRAY findings which show a clear demand from African stakeholders in nutrition to carry out community-based interventions to prevent nutritional problems. In addition, African researchers consider that the current nutrition research agenda is driven mainly by funding bodies from outside Africa, and call for additional efforts to promote pan-African networking of researchers, multi-disciplinary research as well as interactions between researchers and policymakers.

Through SUNRAY, African nutrition researchers and government staff participated in three regional workshops to define thematic priority areas for nutrition research. The findings were further developed with stakeholders in nutrition research during an international consultation round. These discussions addressed three areas: identifying emerging environmental challenges and their implications for nutrition; assessing current research in Africa; and setting priorities for future research. One clear finding is that a systematic approach is needed to rationalise nutrition research in sub-Sahara Africa on a long-term basis.

The final body of knowledge generated by the SUNRAY project was the priorities for nutrition research in Africa and a roadmap, defined in collaboration with a wide range of African stakeholders. This knowledge was summarised in an academic paper scheduled for submission in March 2013.

The roadmap was sent for consultation to SUNRAY regional workshop participants and a wider group of 56 non-African stakeholders, e.g. academia, multilateral and bilateral donors, (such as the UN, CGIAR, NGOS, International Union of Nutrition Societies) and various representatives of research or projects in nutrition that were selected for their excellence or mandate with respect to nutrition research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Patrick Kolsteren,

Organisation: Prins Leopold Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde, Belgium,