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Sidiga Washi

Sidiga Washi 130x180I grew up for the first seventeen wonderful years of my life in Port Sudan City, the third largest city in Sudan with a wonderful family of six siblings before I got married and moved with my husband to the capital city of Khartoum, Sudan. One thing about living in a port city is that you see what is coming and going. When we were little we saw many United Nation agencies come into the port bringing goods, and we saw the World Food Programme import canned food that was later distributed to us in primary school.

In the early 1980s I saw hungry people coming from the famine areas in western Sudan and that took my complete attention, to do something about this. When I got the chance to pursue my university education six years later (1981), I was outside Sudan in Qatar with my husband. After finishing my first degree in sciences (Zoology/Chemistry) from the University of Qatar in 1985, we were back in Sudan, I joined Ahfad University for Women as a teaching assistant at the school of family sciences where I was exposed to the subject of nutrition for the first time. I decided to pursue my graduate studies in the field of community nutrition to help poor communities overcome their nutrition problems.

I started my master’s degree at Iowa State University in August 1986 for two years, specialising in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis on nutrition. I was back home to teach in the area of nutrition at Ahfad for two years before returning back to Iowa for my PhD in the same field. In 1993, I was appointed as a head of the school of family science at Ahfad University where I was able to initiate change in the curriculum and establish three nutrition specialisations. In 1995 I was appointed as a project director to establish a reproductive health centre serving impoverished women at my university catchment area.

Two years later, I was seconded to teach at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was a head of department for four years before I returned back to my university in Sudan in 2002, where I was appointed and served as the Dean of the school of family sciences. In this time we changed the name to the school of health sciences after a thorough revision of the curriculum, resulting in establishing new specialisations in public health nutrition, physiotherapy, and public health. Our graduates are well known for their strong training and hands on learning and many are leading in various positions. I was promoted to a full professor in 2007.

I was seconded again to the United Arab University, in the department of nutrition and health in 2008, where am working up to now. I have led two major studies on nutritional aspects of food labelling, and on childhood obesity among primary school children in the United Arab Emirates.

Visiting and working outside my country has given me an opportunity to understand the causes of diet-related ill-health. Also as a woman and an activist, I realise that women are most susceptible to lower status in nutrition despite the fact that they are the ones that deal with household aspects of feeding. This has led me to research into the gender disparities in nutrition in my country. I dream of a world free of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.