The Food Security Initiative based in Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of AgriSciences has welcomed its first postdoctoral researcher. Dr Sandra Boatemaa will be researching matters related to food systems governance in Southern Africa. It is a challenge that Dr Boatemaa is looking forward to.
She previously worked as a field supervisor in the University of Ghana’s Department of Nutrition and was a graduate assistant of its Regional Institute for Population Studies, is looking forward to the new challenge. Earlier this year, Dr Boatemaa received her PhD in Population Studies from the University of Ghana.
Her thesis focused on the food beliefs and food habits of members of an urban community in Accra in Ghana, and how it relates to their risk of contracting and managing non-communicable diseases. The MPhil in Population Studies that she received in 2012 at the University of Ghana delved into the perceptions and practices around food of the same community (see below more about her studies and research).
In her new role, Dr Boatemaa will be building on a National Research Foundation (NRF) funded project on Food System Governance in Southern Africa. It is facilitated by the Southern Africa Food Lab and one of Stellenbosch University’s flagship programmes, the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST). Stellenbosch University is a partner in this multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to understand innovative institutional arrangements to govern an increasingly complex food system. “I want to examine how this sustainable approach impacts on farmers’ health and livelihood,” Dr Boatemaa elaborates on the practical look that she will be taking on food system governance. In the process, she will draw on experiences and case studies from across the continent.
Her work will be completed under guidance of Dr Laura Pereira of the CST and Dr Scott Drimie of the South Africa Food Lab. She will build on existing proposal that considers the governance arrangements required in southern Africa to underpin a sustainable food system linking countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.
It also extends relationships with the Universities of Cape Town, Oxford, Wageningen and Newcastle and various universities in southern Africa. “Dr Boatemaa’s appointment is of great value to the food systems work being done at Stellenbosch University and elsewhere,” explains Dr Scott Drimie, director of the Southern Africa Food Lab, which straddles both the Food Security Initiative and CST. “One of her priorities will be to consider the practicalities and modalities of such a research project that will be participatory and inter-disciplinary in nature.”
Although based in Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of AgriSciences and CST, Dr Boatemaa’s position ties into work being done at the NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security in South Africa, based at the University of the Western Cape. “This important partnership across institutions enables several schools of thought and discipline to come together both within Stellenbosch University and wider fields,” explains Dr Drimie. “This is of utmost importance to better understand how to drive change in the food system.”