2nd Africa Food Environment Research Network (FERN2021) Meeting | Wednesdays: 3rd, 10th & 17th November 2021

Theme: Leveraging Food Environment Research Network (FERN) to Transform Africa’s Food Systems
Date: Wednesdays: 3rd, 10th & 17th November 2021
Format: Fully virtual; 3 days

FERN2021 Zoom Links

The Zoom meeting links for the FERN2021 Meeting have been sent to registered participants.

Kindly get in touch with the FERN Secretariate via info@meals4ncds.org  if you are registered but have not received an email of the Zoom meeting links.

Thank you.

Website Administrator  

The impact of the multiple pandemics of malnutrition (including undernutrition, and obesity), climate change, and currently, COVID-19 - on our food environments and the food systems in general is immense.  These challenges require urgent attention. Addressing the challenges, malnutrition in all its forms, will require improvement in food environments and a food system that works for all.  In Africa, improving food environments is an urgent priority. Rapid urbanization, coupled with changes in food environments, has impacted the burden of obesity and diet-related NCDs in the region. Dietary habits of people in Africa are shifting towards highly processed foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Africa needs policies and practice guidance designed to create supportive food environments for healthy food choices. To be successful, food systems stakeholders led by governments require inputs – including data, evidence, nudging.

Against this background, the MEALS4NCDs Project and partners (INFORMAS, REPSAO, DFC, Others) will convene the second Africa Food Environment Research Network Meeting (FERN2021) on Wednesdays: 3rd, 10th & 17th November 2021.   The MEALS4NCDs project is focused on measuring and supporting public sector actions that create healthy food marketing and food provisioning environments for children and adolescents in Ghana, with the aim to prevent obesity nutrition-related NCDs. The FERN initiative, birthed by the MEALS4NCDs Project is a regional capacity-building, and knowledge-sharing network that encourages research collaborations, implementation of innovative food environment research, and practices that facilitate creation of healthier food environments in Africa. The 1st FERN meeting was held online from 3rd to 5th November 2020, with about 200 participants from 56 countries in attendance. The meeting provided a platform to connect researchers working on African food environment, identified research priorities for improving food environment in Africa and provided capacity building workshops for participants.

The 2nd FERN meeting will build on the progress made from the first meeting, and leverage research, practice, and policy-making networks to contribute to the transformation of Africa’s food environments and food systems as a whole. The event will be held on Wednesdays: 3rd, 10th & 17th November 2021 – jointly with the International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS)’s e-symposium series – as per the joint call for abstracts below.

Researchers (academic or civil society) are invited to submit an abstract for presentation, particularly those featuring emerging findings on food environments: Presentations may fall under one (or more) of the following streams:

  • Public sector policies
  • Private sector
  • Food labelling
  • Food composition
  • Food provision (settings)
  • Food retail
  • Food prices
  • Food choice
  • Food trade and investment
  • Population diets
  • Food promotion
  • Other cross-cutting food environment-related topics

The deadline for submission is October 15, 2021, and the time is 11:59 PM GMT (1:59 AM CAT | 2:59 AM EAT)

To submit an abstract, click on the link below.


Authors of accepted abstracts will have the opportunity to develop full papers for consideration in a forthcoming Special Issue in Frontiers in Public Health: “The African Food Environments” edited by Professor Amos Laar, Dr. Gershim Asiki, Professor Kaleab Baye, Prof. Francis Zotor, and Prof. Anna Lartey as detailed at the link below.


The FERN2021 and the INFORMAS eSymposium series (for the sub-Saharan region) will take place virtually on Wednesdays: 3rd, 10th & 17th November 2021.  With the eSymposium on the 10th November, 2021, the event format will be half-day meetings with pre-recorded and live presentations, discussions and workshops. As with the previous FERN, participants will share experiences, best practices, methodologies, challenges and opportunities for improving research on food environments and related policy in Africa. The meeting will also serve as a regional platform for food, nutrition and health policy experts, academia, governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations and health-promoting private sector to foster collaboration towards transforming the food systems on the African continent. Sessions will include a debrief following the United Nations Food Systems Summit by country representatives.

To register to participate in the meeting, please click on the link below:



MEALS4NCDs Partners

University of Ghana; University of Health and Allied Sciences; Ghana Health Service; Africa African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), Kenya; National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), France; Amsterdam University Medical Centers, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Sciensano, Belgium, University of Toronto.


INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity / Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support) is a global network of public-interest organisations and researchers that aims to monitor, benchmark and support public and private sector actions to increase healthy food environments and reduce obesity and NCDs and their related inequalities. There are currently more than 60 countries worldwide participating in INFORMAS. For more information, kindly visit https://www.informas.org/

UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems

The Unesco Chair in World Food Systems aims to bridge the gap between food science disciplines and supporting different stakeholders to deliver more sustainable food systems. The Chair currently organizes science-society interactions through three types of activities : training; action research; opening doors to and disseminating knowledge. More information on : https://www.chaireunesco-adm.com/?lang=en


REPSAO "Réseau de Recherche sur les Politiques et les Systèmes Alimentaires en Afrique de l'Ouest" has been implemented in 2019. REPSAO is a platform of stakeholders including researchers, public policy makers and community actors that aims to develop research-action on healthy food environments policy and food system and to stimulate a regional dynamic around this topic in West Africa. The network has defined and agenda of priority research topics and actions that will guide policy-making decision and development of strategic plans in nutrition, health and environmental sustainability.

DFC Program

The Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) generates, synthesizes, and disseminates knowledge to provide a deep understanding of the drivers of food choice among the poor in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The DFC Program which is funded by the UK Government's Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed by the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health.  https://driversoffoodchoice.org/

Food Prices for Nutrition

Food Prices for Nutrition is a project at Tufts University, implemented with the World Bank and IFPRI, to support computation of diet cost and affordability metrics such as those used in UN system SOFI reports and other outlets like https://ourworldindata.org/food-prices. Details at: https://sites.tufts.edu/foodpricesfornutrition.


The Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa (CDIA) is a network of multidisciplinary researchers from the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of the Western Cape, and the South African Medical Research Council, and policymakers from local and national Departments of Health. The Centre serves as a regional hub for developing and evaluating models of chronic disease care and prevention. For more information, kindly visit http://www.cdia.uct.ac.za/

ANH Academy

The Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy is a global community of interdisciplinary researchers, practitioners, and policymakers working on agriculture and food systems for improved nutrition and health, with over 5000 members from 145 countries, 63% of whom are based in Africa or Asia.

The Academy is a platform for sharing research and evidence, with a focus on supporting peer-to-peer capacity strengthening and fostering collaboration across diverse disciplines, geographies, seniorities and sectors. As a workstream of the IMMANA programme it also shares methods and metrics developed through IMMANA grants and fellowships.

Membership of the ANH Academy is free of charge and open to all. Sign up here

What we do:
Annual ANH Academy Week, where hundreds of Academy members meet for learning labs and an interdisciplinary research conference.

Working groups to accelerate research by sharing experience and synthesising disparate research methods and metrics.
Skills-based trainings via face-to-face gatherings and webinars.
Synthesis Centre for Agriculture and Nutrition Research (SCANR).
An online collaborative platform.

For more information, kindly go here https://www.anh-academy.org/

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is a leading Africa-based, African-led, international research institution headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with a regional office in Dakar, Senegal. Our researchers are contributing to the body of evidence about critical issues in population health and wellbeing, impeding Africa’s development to provide strong direction and recommendations to policy- and decision-makers at all levels. APHRC also aims to enhance the use of the evidence generated by decision-makers for policy and programming at the local, national and regional level.

The RECAP project by APHRC aims to identify context-relevant priority actions that promote a healthy food environment as a strategy to enhance healthy dietary patterns/practices and prevent nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NR-NCDs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The project has four objectives: i. To assess gaps, barriers and facilitators to developing and implementing public food policies and government actions, ii. To assess the frequency and nature of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, the power of promotions on television, in stores, and in and around schools, iii. To estimate the cost of inaction for selected NR-NCD policies, and iv. To assess the legal and administrative feasibility of adopting and implementing context-specific NR-NCD interventions.


The MEALS4NCDs Project/FERN is funded by The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Food, Environment, and Health Program—IDRC, Canada.

The INFORMAS eSymposium series, to be held in October-November 2021, is generously supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

For further details, visit the project website: https://www.meals4ncds.org/en/fern-initiative/ or send direct enquiries about the FERN Meeting or the MEALS4NCDs Project to:

Amos Laar, PhD.
Project Principal Investigator
MEALS4NCDs Project –
providing Measurement Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support (MEALS) for NCDs prevention
E-mail: alaar@ug.edu.ghinfo@meals4ncds.org

FERN2021 Meeting Proceedings

FERN2021 Meeting Recordings