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Boosting food systems thinking & cross-disciplinarity at the GAIN 20th anniversary workshop sessions

On October 20th 2022, to celebrate GAIN’s 20th anniversary, a ‘reshaping food systems and nutrition’ workshop took place. It referenced one of GAIN’s projects of rehabilitation of the Buguruni informal fresh food market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

Stakeholders from various backgrounds (academic, donors, NGOs, and more) used the innovative and structured systems thinking and planning methodology called Backcasting to help define a future vision of impact, and then worked ‘backwards’ to identify necessary steps to achieve this vision. The workshop was facilitated by glocolearning team members, who supported the participants to use a co-creating, co-learning and food systems approach to develop a shared vision to diagnose the complex urban food environment challenge in Tanzania. Next, participants designed a transition pathway-to-impact map to achieve this 2030+ articulated vision: “50% of urban, informal fresh food markets in Dar es Salaam have robust infrastructure which are co-designed and locally-led.” Finally, facilitators helped to guide discussions amongst and between participants to share learnings around real-world informal markets. 

The two participant groups tackled different components of the backcasting process for this co-learning exercise. One identified the key steps or the milestones necessary to achieve success relative to the future vision for impact. The other worked on articulating the potential barriers and identified possible trade-offs, risks and unintended consequences of supporting and achieving informal market infrastructure improvements. Some of these barriers include lack of strong and well-coordinated cold-chain access, lack of sufficient  finance support for small markets, lack of awareness on food safety, … The steps teams started with a consumer-focused lens and found creative ways to build up locally led consultative processes together with market vendors in a more participatory and open approach, taking into account power and interest factors of various key stakeholders identified. 

Since COVID-19, this was the first time the backcasting process was facilitated by the glocolearning team in a 100% in-person  physical co-working session! Sitting in circles, critical considerations of inclusion and equity were discussed and a long list of key actors and beneficiaries were jotted down on sticky notes. Participants ‘took a walk along the roadmap’ and identified possible innovations and resolutions to achieve their shared vision. 

This GAIN 20th anniversary workshop was designed to provide donors, partners and networks, with an experiential showcase of two of GAIN’s projects: Resilient Markets (under the Food Systems Governance programme) and the IFSS portal initiative. In addition, the Food System’s Dashboard (at the national and shortly also sub-national government levels) and the Food Action Cities platform illustrated how multiple initiatives can come together.


https://foodactioncities.org/highlights/food-systems-thinking-buguruni-informal-fresh-food-market-rehabilitation-tanzania-using-the-ifss-portals-backcasting-approach/ for more information.

One version of the outputs from the GAIN 20th anniversary workshop related to the innovative solution ‘Local food market infrastructure improvements’ can be seen on the IFSS portal.