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Namukolo Covic

Namukolo Covic 130x192I was born in 1958 in Choma, Zambia. I started my primary education in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia but returned to Zambia after the death of my father in 1968. All my primary and secondary education was from missionary schools. My time in mission schools made me realize that an individual can make a difference to help others change their circumstances. I obtained a bachelor of science in agriculture with a minor in extension (1983) from the University of Saskatchewan where I also obtained a post graduate diploma in agriculture (1986) and a master of science (1988) focussing on protein quality evaluation and nutritional toxicology. I returned to Zambia in 1988 where my first job was at the National Food and Nutrition Commission as a senior nutritionist. The following year I was seconded to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as the national expert: food processing.

At UNIDO I got involved in international work contributing to the development of the Training Programme for Women Entrepreneurs in the Food Processing Industry both on a full time and

consultancy basis. As part of the programme I developed training materials and conducted training of trainers and women entrepreneurs between 1989 and 2001. The programme aimed at impacting food and nutrition security by reducing food losses through appropriate small scale food processing technologies and income generation for improved livelihoods. The programme afforded me opportunities to work in several African countries including Botswana, The Gambia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. My family moved to Botswana in 1991 and between 1992 and 2001 I spend some time working as a biology laboratory demonstrator and part time lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Botswana. My work on the African continent exposed me to nutrition problems where increased food production does not always result in improved nutrition status.

In 2002 following very difficult family circumstances I took a job teaching biological sciences, chemistry and junior physics at a Cambridge international school, The International School of South Africa (ISSA) in Mafikeng, South Africa where I eventually held the position of Deputy Head of School: Academics from 2004-2007. During my time at ISSA I rekindled my interest in nutrition and registered for a PhD in Human Nutrition at North-West University (NWU). It was while I completed my PhD that I was offered a lecturer position at NWU (2007) where I am now Senior Lecturer. I obtained the PhD in 2008 on the thesis topic, Effect of blood glucose control on fibrin network characteristics of African subjects with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. My teaching responsibilities have been in public health nutrition at post graduate level and community nutrition at undergraduate final year internship level. In my teaching at all levels I have always emphasised the need for teaching for practical competencies while adding value to the communities where the training process takes place. I strongly believe in working towards the development of synergistic working relationships among the various nutrition stakeholders including academia, health departments, community education, communities and other partners.

I am an active member of the Nutrition Society of South Africa, Nutrition Association of Zambia, and the World Public Health Nutrition Association. I have maintained active involvement in nutrition activities on the African continent as part of the organising team of the African Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP) since 2008. I believe we need strong nutrition leadership in Africa for greater impact on nutrition issues. I am currently a council member of the Federation of African Nutrition Societies and I have been involved in SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) activities in Zambia including the National Food and Nutrition Commission Leadership Capacity Development Programme. I am currently also involved with a capacity development project for the Kigali Health Institute-Human Nutrition and Dietetics Department in Rwanda.