Leadership and capacity

How can we assess, monitor and strengthen leadership and capacity?

The rationale and methodology for the research under this sub-theme is explained here.

 a) Assessing and monitoring nutrition-relevant leadership.

The need for effective nutrition leadership and national-level champions is repeatedly highlighted in the literature, yet little is known about what motivates and sustains nutrition leaders. Building on the initial stakeholder mapping exercise completed as part of TN’s inception, this study will undertake power and network mapping analyses of current (and excluded) actors in nutrition. This will include groups from business, government and civil society. These actors will be interviewed to determine their knowledge, attitudes and practices related to undernutrition in their country. The first run of this study, due to be completed by 2013, is being led by Nick Nisbett, Lawrence Haddad, and Elise Wach of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).  We hope to be able to return to this study over the course of the programme to measure how leadership, motivation and influence evolve over time.

A Transform Nutrition paper on leadership and nutrition has been published as an IDS Working Paper What are the Factors Enabling and Constraining Effective Leaders in Nutrition? A Four Country Study and also accepted by Food Policy. The review assesses the range of strategies and avenues for (and constraints to) influence, that individual leaders employ and face in nutrition policy arenas. It highlights the importance of locating individuals within the wider political economy, and suggests a number of ways in which nutrition leadership can be nurtured and developed in future. We are now considering how these might be followed up  towards the end of the programme and via our links to other initiatives (including the nutrition champions work)

b) Assessing and monitoring nutrition knowledge capacity.

Leadership and capacity are key to creating and sustaining enabling environments for nutrition, and generating demand for nutrition-relevant knowledge. This study will link with Transform Nutrition’s emphasis on building partners’ capacity to demand, to generate and share, and to use research at the individual, organizational, and systemic levels. Shweta Khandelwal and colleagues at PHFI have undertaken a range of reviews on the state of public health nutrition education and capacity in India and South Asia. The team have completed quantitative work on a situation analysis mapping the state of public health nutrition in South Asia, curriculum analysis, and qualitative work (focus group discussions and interviews). A significant constraint for colleges in South Asia is the lack of access to journals. Another challenge is the lack of accreditation for students seeking a career in nutrition. Accreditation signals that a profession is valued and useful, and its lack may deter ambitious students from following this as a career path. Accreditation might also encourage government and other employers to prefer students qualified in public health nutrition, rather than generalists.

In addition, to assess the capacity/potential for nutrition impact through existing programmes, the PHFI team have completed a review of Government of India programmes for women and children, and assessed their implications for nutrition during the 1000 day period. This Review of Government Programmes for Women and Children in India: Implications for Nutrition during the thousand Day Period by Shweta Khandelwal, Radhika Dayal, Surbhi Bhalla and Tanusree Paul was published in the Indian Journal of Nutrition & Dietetics. Finally, an MSc student from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Ellen Poolman, contacted TN with the suggestion to undertake curriculum mapping on nutrition in Ethiopia.  Following initial guidance from Stuart Gillespie, she delivered her dissertation on Current education programmes in Public Health Nutrition in Ethiopia: Do curricula align with the National Nutrition Strategy?”