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Food and Water for Life: co-creation and evaluation of sustainable community-led innovations to strengthen food and water security

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 3: What opportunities lie in the improved cooperation between water, food, and public health sectors?
Author(s): Prof Jacqui Webster (main author), Ms Christine Corby, Ms Wendy Spencer, Dr. Ruth McCausland, Dr. Keziah Bennett-Brook, Dr Janani Shanthosh, Ms Emalie Rosewarne, Prof Eileen Baldry, Prof Greg Leslie

Prof Jacqui Webster1 (main author), Ms Christine Corby2, Ms Wendy Spencer3, Dr. Ruth McCausland4, Dr. Keziah Bennett-Brook1, Dr Janani Shanthosh1, Ms Emalie Rosewarne1, Prof Eileen Baldry4, Prof Greg Leslie5

1. The George Institute, Australia
2. Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service, Australia
3. Dharriwaa Elders Group
4. Yuwaya Ngarra-Li Partnership, UNSW Sydney
5. The Global Water Institute, UNSW Sydney


Keyword(s): Community-Led, Traditional Knowledge, Food-Water Security


(a) Purpose or objectives and status of study or research hypothesis
The Food and Water for Life project aims to improve the nutrition and health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia by identifying and supporting community led approaches to sustainable solutions to food and water security. The five year project involving the Dharriwaa Elders Group, UNSW Sydney the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and the George Institute, will identify, develop and evaluate food and water strategies that can be implemented at scale in first nation communities.

(b) Key issue(s) or problem(s) addressed
Indigenous leaders have been advocating for community-led solutions that address food and water security. These are more likely to lead to improved nutrition, health, and wellbeing outcomes than dominant externally developed approaches. This approach is important because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease. A major risk factor is poor nutrition, which is being adversely impacted by increasing food and water insecurity.

(c) Methodology or approach used
The project employs innovative community-led processes and frameworks, encompassing Indigenous rights and knowledge, to strengthen, implement and evaluate community-led solutions and build resilience to mitigate future risks to food and water security. Specific objectives are to: 1) Review comparable situations of food and water insecurity and existing tools to address these issues that the community can draw on to strengthen its response; 2) Develop a framework and tools in partnership with the community to strengthen and evaluate the process and impact of the community-led response; 3) Establish an iterative adaptive process to inform, monitor and evaluate the program’s impact on food and water security and nutrition, and document experiences and lessons learnt with view to translating to other communities in Australia and globally.

(d) Results and conclusions derived from the project
The research adds to our knowledge about effective community-led responses to food and water security. This will be used to inform a framework for strengthening community responses to food and water insecurity in Indigenous communities. This framework will be disseminated widely through existing networks to support research translation.

(e) Implications of the project relevant to selected conference theme, theory and/or practice
Through greater cooperation between water, food and public health sectors, this innovative community-led project will facilitate improved nutrition, health and well-being outcomes and reduce the burden of diet-related chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia.

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