International Women’s Day: Interview with Martha Nyagaya

Women's Nutrition, East and Southern Africa

  • Are you a women working in food systems, what do you do?

Yes, I am Nutrition International’s Country Director in Kenya. In this role I lead program planning, development and implementation of multisectoral nutrition programs. I also manage relations with Donors, Government of Kenya and other key local stakeholders.

As the Chair of the SUN Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA), I engage in policy dialogue and advocacy, convening 78 CSA member organizations into meetings and building consensus on contentious issues to influence prioritization of nutrition issues affecting vulnerable communities while prioritising women, children and adolescent girls.

I have worked in a range of programs including food security, nutrition, health, and HIV/AIDS. Prior to joining Nutrition International, I worked as a nutrition portfolio manager for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and as a regional food security and nutrition advisor at Irish Aid. I have also worked as a regional research fellow in East and Central Africa, for the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, a specialized research centre of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), Harvest Plus, as well as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the Kenya Medical Research Institute. I work mainly at policy and program implementation level, supporting food production, access and utilization and safety initiatives.

  • Do you feel that food systems support you as a woman?

To some extent yes, but we still need gender to be mainstreamed appropriately to ensure we address barriers to food systems supporting women. We also need a deep analysis of the power dynamics and gender inequalities that put women and girls at a higher risk of food and nutrition insecurity to design relevant support for them, as well as raise the profile of gender equality as the foundation and catalyst to sustainable food systems

  • How do you think global food systems could be improved?

Different interventions will apply in different contexts. There is a wealth of generic guidance on what should be done for example ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, shifting to sustainable consumption patterns, boosting nature-positive production at scale, advancing equitable livelihoods and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress. A thorough analysis of drivers in zoned contexts will be useful in identifying appropriate interventions.

We have a number of policy declarations that have been endorsed by governments, these must be translated into actions through resource allocation, coordination and operational support.