Sustainable diets for all
Through citizen action, the Sustainable Diets for All programme promoted diets that were diverse, healthy, fair, and sustainable.
Principal researcher, Shaping Sustainable Markets
The world produces enough food to meet the needs of the global population, but many people do not have access to healthy and affordable diets from food that is produced in a sustainable way.
The globalised food industry promotes low cost, highly processed foods that contribute to obesity and diet-related diseases that many people fear will lead to a public health crisis. Large-scale intensive agriculture degrades the environment, damages biodiversity and cuts out small producers. There is a compelling case for re-examining food systems.
Sustainable Diets for All was an advocacy programme that used evidence, including evidence generated by citizens, to work with low-income communities as they increased access to sustainable, affordable and nutritious food in five countries: Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Bolivia and Indonesia.
Coordinated by Hivos and IIED, the programme was implemented by Movimiento de Integración Gastronómico Alimentario de Bolivia (MIGA), Fundación Alternativas, La Casa de les Nigunes, Tanoker, ADS-Central Rift, Growth Partners Africa, Beacon, Slow Food Uganda, Vedco, Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Food Rights Alliance, Consumer Unity and Trust Society CUTS International, Zambian Women’s Alliance, CSO-SUN Zambia, Civil Society for Poverty Reduction Zambia (CSPR) and the Alliance for Zambian Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA).
Policy and behaviour change achievements
The Sustainable Diets for All programme achieved policy and behaviour change in three areas:
- Healthy and diverse food production: the programme promoted and protected crop and seed diversity, including the preservation of traditional seed varieties
- Small and medium enterprise: implementers supported informal food sector actors and small businesses to connect cities with rural areas through trade in sustainable produce, and
- Healthy and diverse consumption: working with small businesses and community groups the programme promoted healthy food choices that improved diets.
In addition, the programme worked to increase the collective capacity of all stakeholders (coordinators and implementers) to deliver citizen-generated advocacy and research for food system change.
This citizen science approach to national and local advocacy planning and delivery, and evidence generation, proved to be an important and enduring achievement. The skills gained across the programme led to the definition of highly relevant advocacy agendas that resulted in persuasive and inclusive influencing in pursuit of agriculture diversification, resilient markets and healthy consumption.
The programme used multi-actor initiatives to bring people that work in food systems together, and to link them to policymakers, creating winning alliances focused on sustainable food system transformation.
The full evaluation of the SD4All programme (PDF) includes case studies of policy influencing and behaviour change in each of the five programme countries. The programme also published a series of reflection papers drawing on lessons learned in five different areas:
- Multi-actor initiatives
- Citizen agency
- Sustainable diets in the informal economy
- Food systems, and
- Capacity development.
SD4All was part of the consortium ‘Dialogue and Dissent’ that includes an energy programme focused on building green and inclusive energy. It was funded by and conducted in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is also a full evaluation of all the consortium’s thematic programmes.
Videos of change
In Zambia almost 90% of agriculture is devoted to maize. This has resulted in a lack of crop and dietary diversity. The 2017 film ‘Life Beyond Maize’ looks at the issue of maize monocropping and dietary diversity in low-income families, particularly those living in cities. Watch it below, or on IIED's YouTube channel.
In Indonesia, low-income city dwellers rely on the informal food sector for much of their diet. SD4All set up a change lab to bring vendors, consumers and policymakers together to discuss how to improve access to safe, affordable healthy food.
In Bolivia, many people eat highly processed food while traditional crops and biodiversity – and the nutritious food they produce – lack investment. The SD4All change lab is bringing together women to explore local food systems.
The short film 'A turn for the better' explored food, diet and traditions from the perspective of three women. The film was shortlisted for the 2019 Social Impact Media Awards. Watch the film below or on Hivos' Vimeo channel.
Many healthy Indigenous crops in Uganda have been abandoned in favour of cash crops such sugar cane and rice, with detrimental effects on people’s diets.
The short film, 'Food is Life', shows how crucial it is for public policy to include the voices of people working in and using local food systems if we are to ensure sustainable diets for all. Watch the film below or on Hivos' Vimeo channel.
Promoting women’s influence in their food systems. Women's influence within food systems outcomes in the Sustainable Diets for All programme
Publication, 21 December 2020
Multi-actor initiatives in action: lessons from the Sustainable Diets for All programme
Publication, 01 July 2020
Agency and advocacy in the food systems of the majority: Food for thought from the Sustainable Diets for All programme
Publication, 01 June 2020
Putting indigenous foods and food systems at the heart of sustainable food and nutrition security in Uganda
Publication, 01 May 2020
Indonesia’s triple burden of malnutrition: a call for urgent policy change
Publication, 01 December 2019
Informal food markets in Zambia: perspectives from vendors, consumers and policymakers in Lusaka and Kitwe
Publication, 01 October 2019
Video: Healthy generations ahead (2019), Hivos/IIED
Video: Food for life (2019), Hivos/IIED
Video: A turn for the better (2019), Hivos/IIED
Video: Life beyond maize (2017), Hivos/IIED
Video: Sustainable Diets for All in Indonesia (2017), Hivos/IIED
Uganda Food Change Lab: planning for the future food system of Kabarole district (PDF), Bill Vorley, Felia Boerwinkel (2016), Hivos/IIED