Menu ENN Search

Capacity Building through the lens of the African Graduate Nutrition Students’ Network

Members of AGSNet, Bloemfontein, South AfricaJoseph Ashong

Joseph is the Coordinator for the African Graduate Nutrition Students Network. He is a Nutrition Specialist with USAID Ghana.

In recent years, nutrition has gained global recognition as a key development strategy for many governments, bilateral, multilateral and development organisations. Africa is lagging behind in development terms due to many reasons, one of which is poor nutrition. In 2013, over one third of all stunted and wasted children were in Africa. Africa has experienced the smallest relative decrease in underweight (weight for age) prevalence compared to other continents, with an underweight prevalence of 17 per cent in 2013, down from 23 per cent in 1990 (Global Nutrition Report, 2014). More effort is needed across the continent to address undernutrition. Efforts of governments, academic and research institutions, schools and colleges, civil societies, donors, and the media must be stepped up and be better coordinated to achieve real progress toward food and nutrition security in Africa. The African Graduate Students’ Network (AGSNet) aims to support the process.

The AGSNet was initiated in 2002 by a group of students at Cornell University, USA, as a platform for networking and relationship building among nutrition students and young African nutrition professionals. The AGSNet aims to build core nutrition competencies, organizational skills as well as appropriate attitudes and values while fostering the development of strong African nutrition advocates or champions who will keep the fight against malnutrition in Africa at the forefront of their work.


The network currently holds a congress twice per year as part of the African Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC) organized by the African Nutrition Society (ANS). At this congress, experts are invited to speak on topics relevant to African nutrition. Additionally, the network hosts training workshops on various topics such as research dissemination.

Community activities are also arranged for members to foster a common attitude.  Recently the network conducted an outreach visit to the Tower of Hope, a non-governmental organization based in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Tower of Hope supports and advocates for the rights of people living on the street. AGSNet members gave a talk and answered questions on basic health and nutrition.

Membership and operations

AGSNet currently has over 400 members from over 40 countries in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. Members pay an annual membership of approximately $25 USD (though this is country specific). The network is run by an elected, voluntary steering committee and is supported by regional and country representatives who are encouraged to organize activities at the country level and to promote AGSNet.  For instance, members in Nigeria recently held a meeting where they brought in experts to talk about career development and how to achieve higher nutrition qualifications.

The network’s main medium of communication is email. It has a list-serve by which information is shared and members interact. The network has a website and a Facebook account. Information on workshops, seminars, conferences, jobs, latest nutrition research, relevant articles, and general good practices are shared on these platforms as well as via the listserve.

AGSNet members are encouraged by the network to attend conferences, training workshops and seminars to enhance their technical capacities and network with experts in the field to build social capital. The network sources external funding for specific activities.


Membership. AGSNet membership is mostly made up of students. Keeping up the interest and enthusiasm of members after their training as well as encouraging new students/members to join has always been a challenge.

Payments and financing. Membership is paid in-country, AGSNet does not have a system for global fee collection. Additionally, while the secretariat works on a voluntary basis, funding is required for specific projects.

These challenges notwithstanding, the network has been able to hold meetings in Morocco, Kenya and South Africa since its inauguration in 2005. It has also been successful in creating a platform for collaboration and sharing of ideas between young Africans in an atmosphere of openness, sincerity and friendship.

Moving forward

The network is very active and has several projects running currently. Specifically, the network is

There is a growing community of young and enthusiastic Africans championing the fight against malnutrition in Africa. AGSNet is building friendship and a unifying front among them for improved nutrition in Africa.

More like this

NEX: Building parliamentarian networks for nutrition in West Africa

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici An increasing number of countries are recognising the potential role that parliamentarians can play in...

FEX: Transforming media coverage of nutrition in Kenya

By Titus Mung'ou Lisez cet article en français ici At the time of writing, Titus Mung'ou was the Advocacy and Communications Manager at Action Against Hunger (ACF) and...

FEX: Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) in Protracted Crisis: The South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (CSA) experience

By Mercy Laker, Dr Soma Emmanuel and Joseph Scott View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Mercy Laker is Assistant Country Director for CARE...

FEX: Advocating for nutrition in West Africa: The role of SUN Civil Society Alliances

By Judith Kabore and Laure Serra View this article as a pdf Judith Kabore is an advocacy officer at the regional office of Action Against Hunger. A journalist by training,...

FEX: Community Nutrition: A Handbook for Health and Development Workers

A new book 'Community Nutrition: A Handbook for Health and Development Workers' has just been completed. It is targeted at health and other development professionals who work...

FEX: Nairobi Nuts Group

Name: Nairobi Nuts Group (NNG) Organiser: Filippo Dibari Email: Members: 69 Year formed: April 2008 Filippo Dibari Interview by...

FEX: Africa Forum 2009 - An experience in adult learning

By Kara Greenblott Kara Greenblott lived and worked in Africa and Southeast Asia for 11 years managing a diverse range of humanitarian programmes. She has a Masters degree in...

en-net: ICRC Nutritionist Positions Open

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to provide protection and assistance for victims of armed...

en-net: ICRC is looking for Nutritionists, field based

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to provide protection and assistance for victims of armed...

FEX: Treatment of severe malnutrition now a core competency in health

By Ann Ashworth and Alan Jackson, International Malnutrition Task Force Paediatricians took a giant step forward at the International Paediatric Association (IPA) Congress in...

FEX: The potential role of local academia in protracted crises – the example of the American University of Beirut

By Amelia Reese Masterson, Hala Ghattas and Fouad M Fouad Amelia Reese Masterson was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Research on Population and Health at the American...

en-net: Nutrition short course relevant for health workers/researchers working in developing countries

Anyone aware of a university offering a short course in Nutrition whose content will be relevant for health workers and researchers working in Africa. Please send in the...

FEX: Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM) progress report

View this article as a pdf The Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM) is a common global mechanism endorsed by over 40 Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC)...

FEX: ACC/SCN Working Group on Nutrition in Emergencies

The annual UN ACC/SCN meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya between 2-5 April 2001. The Working Group on nutrition in Emergencies meeting was held on the 5th. Highlights of the...

FEX: Summary of Field Exchange Evaluation

From July to November 2012, the ENN undertook an evaluation of Field Exchange (FEX) use amongst its readers. The aims were to establish how FEX is used to inform programming,...

FEX: World Vision

Name World Vision Website Address 1 World Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5T 2Y4 Director The President of World Vision Canada is Dave Toycen Dr. Carolyn...

NEX: A new SUN civil society network: Advice from nutrition champions on set-up

Charulatha Banerjee, ENN's Asia Regional Knowledge Management Specialist, put questions from the Philippine Coalition of Advocates in Nutrition champions with knowledge of...

Adolescent Nutrition

Why Adolescent nutrition is important Adolescence (defined by the WHO as between age 10 and 19 years) is a time of rapid growth, second only to the first year of life....

NEX: Advocating for nutrition in West Africa: The role of SUN civil society alliances

Judith Kabore is an advocacy officer at the regional office of Action Against Hunger (ACF). Before this, she worked for nine years in the Ministry of Health in Burkina Faso and...

NEX: SUN and the private sector: Business networks in Nigeria and Niger

Ambarka Youssoufane is ENN's West and Central Africa Knowledge Management Specialist. He observed and summarised the Business Network meetings in Nigeria and...


Reference this page

Joseph Ashong (). Capacity Building through the lens of the African Graduate Nutrition Students’ Network. Nutrition Exchange 5, May 2015. p15.



Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.