What works to improve nutrition? Success stories and lessons learned from six countries

Stories of Change in Nutrition hosted a symposium at the Micronutrient Forum on Sunday 23rd October 2016.

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We were delighted to see over 50 people in the room including representatives from SUN, NGOs, research organisations and donors for our symposium at the Micronutrient Forum. This interesting and interactive session had an invited panel to present and discuss the ‘Stories of Change in Nutrition’ project which has been funded by CIFF and DFID.

Stuart Gillespie introduced the session outlining the Stories of Change in nutrition project which aims to support experiential learning on how to address the challenge of undernutrition in different contexts. We have investigated what has worked, what hasn’t, why and how to help countries learn from each other, and share ideas and approaches.

Rahul Rawat presented the Drivers of change in nutrition in Senegal and outlined the critical role of political institutions.

Jody Harris presented the changes and challenges in Zambia’s nutrition policy environment and the move from coherence to commitment.

Rasmi Avula gave her insights on scaling-up delivery of health and nutrition interventions from a 25-year retrospective analysis of Odisha.

Namukolo Covic led the presentation on Championing nutrition: effective leadership for action and discussed why it was important not just to identify decision makers and influencers but also to support them with evidence, training and exposure to transcend to champions, policy entrepreneurs and supporters.

So what have we learnt from the Stories of Change in Nutrition process?

  • Commitment – Although political commitment in its different forms is essential for progress in nutrition, it is not enough – and it is in danger of grinding to a halt unless it leads to more and better action that yields results on the ground. This is a key finding of the Stories of Change in Nutrition country studies, and it represents a new frontier for nutrition.
  • Coherence – Coherence is important because nutrition requires actions from several sectors and because it requires engagement by a range of actors at different levels. This goes well beyond governmental action and sectors, to include the role of civil society and the private sector.
  • Accountability – Proper accountability exists when there is clarity and cross-sectoral consensus on roles and responsibilities.
  • Data – It is crucial that timely data on trends in different forms of malnutrition and on outcomes of actions and programs become available and accessible in the public domain. More data that is actionable at the subnational level is also needed and more and better evaluations are required.
  • Capacity - Capacity is needed at different levels, in different sectors and for different purposes. In particular, within the new generation of nutrition professionals, we need individuals with stronger strategic and operational capacities to go along with their technical skillsets.
  • Leadership - Nutrition champions and policy entrepreneurs are needed to catalyze social and political change and make development policy in general more nutrition-sensitive.
  • Financing - Nutrition plans need to be costed, and finance ministries properly engaged in budgeting discussions – especially given the need for engagement by several sectors.

To finish we were delighted to have Jessica Fanzo present lessons from the REACH approach in eight countries on strengthening nutrition governance.

We had a wide ranging and useful discussion at the end and people said that they hoped other countries would get the opportunity to have their ‘Story of change in nutrition’ told.

Stories of Change in Nutrition outputs and events.

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