By: Doreen Ampofo
A research conducted in sub Saharan Africa and Asia has revealed that the provision of electricity and internet infrastructure promotes quality nutrition, livelihood empowerment and gender equality.
The research conducted by the ICED reviewed almost 400 theses and articles written by easiness researchers globally. At a forum to disseminate the findings, the authors called for the provision of infrastructure that is based on evidence that it improves the lives of citizens, particularly women and children.
According to the research, communities that had Internet cafe’s, ICT centers or community radios reported higher vitamin A, protein and iron rich food intakes. They also had a good number of women who were economically empowered , unlike their colleagues in farm households without such infrastructure.
In a presentation, one of the lead researchers, Dr Charles Okyere was hopeful the document will not only inform policy decisions but also contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Providing infrastructure gives communities the opportunity to grow diverse foods and not just staples. Communities will be able to cultivate vegetables and fruits which should lead to nutritious diet outcomes.
Dr Okyere said when it comes to markets, they provide a one stop shop for purchasing farming inputs such as fertilizers.
“This plays a crucial role in advancing our agricultural production and increasing farm income. And when income increases then we see a lot of opportunities . It is same with storage. If you have poor storage it has a lot of implications on the quality of food, post harvest losses and aflatoxins levels. “
Dr Charles Okyere noted that providing storage facilities ensures the quality of food increases , increasing the opportunity for communities to have access to nutritious diets.
Senior Policy Advisor to the Vice President Prof Kwaku Appiah- Adu said gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the nutritional needs of low-income consumers (LICs), especially women and children, in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are often compromised by their low access to safe, affordable, and nutritious foods, partially due to poor infrastructure.
According to him, such issues have emerged as critical global goals, necessitating a comprehensive examination of the role of inclusive infrastructure in facilitating women’s progress. This understanding, Prof Appiah Adu said, is gaining traction and finding resonance in key policy frameworks like the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, particularly Principle 5 on “Integrating Social Considerations in Infrastructure Investment.
Prof Appiah-Adu called for a comprehensive examination of inclusive infrastructure in promoting development.
“Embedding the perspectives and needs of women and girls within infrastructure projects is crucial for promoting holistic economic development. Not only will it improve and protect the lives and livelihoods of women and girls but will benefit the entire global economy as well.
Ensuring equal access to infrastructure services is a critical step to close the gender gap.”
The disseminated forum revealed lack of investment in research in Africa. Gender and Women Empowerment consultant Prof Emeritus Takyiwaa Manuh called for change.
“There is a whole literature now on decolonization research. This is part of the decolonizing; that we change the power relations, after all we know more about the reality. We also have to push our governments. Where is the money coming from to fund some of these studies? Why don’t we make sure that every project that we sign on to, there is component that will support research?”
This Prof Manuh said will promote local research capacity and support local leadership.
The CEO of ICED, Dr David Sarfo Ameyaw, thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for funding the project.
He said the project’s emphasis on cell-wise summaries, network analysis, and the synthesis of essential information from studies, adds depth to the research.
According to him decision-makers, funders, and researchers will benefit from a detailed understanding of intervention and outcome studies, evidence confidence levels, and author collaboration patterns.