Project to review dietary guidelines in Samoa, Pacific

By Adel Fruean 14 October 2020, 11:00AM

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.) is collaborating with officials and private sector figures from six Pacific countries to overhaul dietary guidelines in a bid to promote healthier lifestyles. 

In 2021, a workshop will be conducted in Samoa about the programme with the six participating countries sharing their country experiences and the lessons learnt while implementing updated national guidelines.

The food-based dietary guidelines are intended to establish a basis for nutrition, health and agricultural policies and education programmes to foster healthy eating habits and lifestyles.

According to an F.A.O. statement released online, the new partnership follows requests from regional Governments including Samoa for technical assistance in revising and implementing new dietary guidelines. 

In response, the F.A.O. is designing and funding a regional project to be rolled out in Fiji, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

With a total budget of USD$338,000 the initiative will continue until 2021 and support the development and endorsement of new national guidelines. 

The new guidelines for healthy living will be adapted to suit each country’s own systems, culture and food environment context. 

After Government approval of the guidelines, the project will establish a national plan for implementing new guidelines in six countries, combined with an evaluation survey. 

Several country-specific activities will take place including training on the new guidelines to improve food security, nutrition security and health.

Specific groups will be targeted for the training, including health officials and professionals; teachers and Principals, including school food vendors and cooks; agricultural officials; church groups; and food businesses, ranging from restaurants to supermarkets. 

Country specific information, education, and communication materials will be provided. 

Each country’s project rollout will be overseen by a Technical Task Force Team to steer decisions on matters such as the nature of training materials and the cultural context of guidelines. 

Technical Task Force members are expected to include stakeholders from relevant Ministries; community and church groups; health groups; and non-Governmental organisations.

The F.A.O. said that COVID-19 travel restrictions had increased the difficulty of rolling out the project. 

Meetings between Government counterparts will be held mainly by video conferencing. 

By Adel Fruean 14 October 2020, 11:00AM

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