Menu ENN Search

BabyWASH coalition planned to overcome development silos

By Peter Hynes, World Vision

Actors from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donors, academia, United Nations (UN) agencies and others met recently to consider forming a coalition to improve collaboration among those who work to prevent malnutrition and keep children healthy in their first 1,000 days. The meeting, convened in London by World Vision and WaterAid on December 10th 2015, was prompted by a need to seriously address the lack of multi-sectoral engagement in ensuring child survival and development in the first 1,000 days of life.

“There are many missed opportunities due to the siloed nature of the development space,” said meeting organiser, Stefan Germann. “Ensuring health in the first 1,000 days really does require a multi-sectoral engagement process.”

The first 1,000 days of life, from the point of conception up to the child’s second birthday, includes major hotspots such as pregnancy, birth, the neonatal period, early childhood and onset of exploratory play. Health in this period is often best addressed through multi-sectoral interventions. For example, emerging evidence on environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) suggests that the environment that children grow up in could play a large role in childhood stunting, in addition to the food and health care the child receives. Mduduzi Mbuya, whose joint work on EED with Jean Humphrey at John Hopkins University was recently cited in the December 12th edition of the Economist, said that “the theory underlying BabyWASH is that children are routinely exposed to contaminants during their first years of life.” Mr. Mbuya, who presented at the coalition consideration meeting, went on to say that “without improving sanitation and hygiene along with improved nutrition, and ensuring a conducive environment of infant play and socialisation, we might continue to fail in maximising the cognitive, developmental, economic, and overall human potential of children”  

The aim of the proposed coalition – currently named Global BabyWASH* Coalition - is to bring together experts in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); Nutrition; Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH); and Early Child Development (ECD) to promote cross-sector collaboration to ensure better health for children, their mothers and their caregivers. “Making progress on child health relies on addressing environments as well as disease,” said Senior Policy Analyst on Sanitation and Health at WaterAid, Yael Velleman. “We need to move away from our siloes and bring together health, WASH and nutrition sectors in coalitions like this, to make real and significant impact in the area of undernutrition and stunting.”

Facing up to the challenge

The meeting highlighted the difficulties of integration caused by organisational structure, by donor funding structures, and by insufficient efforts among sectors to work towards common targets. In this instance, having the common objective to reduce child stunting and malnutrition, necessitates multiple sectors - nutrition, WASH, MNCH and ECD to work together, and the proposed BabyWASH coalition may be a mechanism to accelerate this approach.

Nevertheless, there was clear agreement that if the world is serious about reaching the ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs), better co-ordination among the development sectors is crucial. “This current work in BabyWASH highlights the prioritizstion of World Vision, WaterAid and the participating agencies to translate the commitment to a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach into action” said World Vision’s Senior Nutrition Policy and Partnerships Advisor, Miriam Yiannakis.  “This commitment must take place both in leadership at the global level and in multi-sectoral interventions in communities.”

Stefan Germann said there was a reticence among those at the meeting “to clutter up the already busy development space with another coalition if one was not required”. Therefore the group will explore what initiatives already exist that focus on integration of sectors and the first 1,000 days of life.

“We will be looking for current actors and other relevant initiatives to become part of the proposed coalition, with the intention of building effectiveness and efficiency,” said Mr. Germann. “We will be exploring this over the next few months and updating our key objectives at a meeting in March 2016.

He added that any coalition should be driven by action rather than just planning. “It is very important to us that this does not just become a talking exercise, but that we actually are able to produce deliverables that improve health outcomes and change the development landscape.”

Proposed action steps for any future coalition include the creation of tools that improve collaboration between the multiple sectors for a common outcome, and that enhance leadership and accountability in the critical 1,000-day period. The group will also work to find better linkages between research and field programming to show the benefits of inter-sectoral work.

For more information about the coalition formation, please contact Stefan Germann.

*BabyWASH is a shorthand term for those interventions required to keep children developing in  a healthy way during the first 1,000 days of life. They include safe water, adequate sanitation, good hygiene, sanitary birth practices, good nutrition, protected play spaces, proper development, etc.

ECD: Early Child Development

More like this

FEX: Launch of BabyWASH Coalition

News The newly launched BabyWASH Coalition is a five-year initiative comprising organisations across civil society, United Nations (UN) organisations, funders, academics and...

BabyWASH Coalition

With more than 25 organisations involved, the BabyWASH Coalition was launched on 20 September to call for greater collaboration among those working to keep children and women...

FEX: WaterAid

Agency profile Name: WaterAid Address: WaterAid, 47-49 Durham Street, London, SE11 5JD, UK Email: healthystart@wateraid.org Website: www.wateraid.org/uk Year founded:...

BabyWASH Coalition discussion

4- 27 October: visit SuSanA Forum and join the BabyWASH Coalition discussion on Integrating sectors to address the holistic needs of children.

FEX: Advancing Early Childhood Development: From Science to Scale

Research Location: Global What we know already: There have been major improvements in child survival over the last 30 years. A major focus of the 2030 Sustainable Development...

FEX: Role of nutrition in integrated early child development

Research Location: Global What we know already: Early child development (ECD) is a key predictor of future social capital and national productivity. Worldwide, 250 million...

FEX: Valid International

In late June this year, ENN interviewed Kate Sadler, Director of Programmes at Valid International (VI), and followed up by speaking to Steve Collins, one of the founders of VI...

NEX: Scaling up nutrition: experiences from Balochistan, Pakistan

Muhammad Sheraz and Dr. Ali Nasir Bugti Muhammad Sheraz is the Nutrition Information Management Officer for the Department of Health within the Government of Balochistan. Dr....

FEX: Implementing multi-sector nutrition programmes in Ethiopia and Nepal: Stakeholder perspectives

Summary of Research1 Kennedy E, Fekadu H, Ghosh S, Baral K, Davis D, Sapkota D and Webb P. Implementing Multisector Nutrition Programs in Ethiopia and Nepal: Challenges and...

FEX: Adolescent Nutrition: Policy and programming in SUN+ countries

Summary of report1 This summary was prepared by Emily Mates (ENN) who undertook the review as an independent consultant together with Tanya Khara (independent), with the...

FEX: How to engage across sectors: Lessons from agriculture and nutrition in the Brazilian School Feeding Programme

Summary of research* Location: Brazil What we know: Historically, successful collaboration between agriculture, nutrition and health sectors has proved challenging. What...

FEX: SUN Movement experiences in Indonesia

By Nina Sardjunani and Endang L. Achadi Nina Sardjunani is the SUN Lead Group member and was previously Deputy Minister of Ministry of National Development/National...

FEX: Update on Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) and the ‘1000 Day’ movements

By Tom Arnold and David Beckmann Tom Arnold is CEO of Concern Worldwide and David Beckmann is President of Bread for the World. Recognised globally as non-governmental...

Transcript_CRF Niger: Dr Nassirou Ousmane

Transcript of interview with Dr Nassirou Ousmane (NO), Niger SUN FP on the Common Results Framework NO: My name is Dr Nassirou Ousmane, I'm the Director of Nutrition at...

FEX: Role of communication and advocacy in scaling up nutrition: lessons and plans from the Zambian experience

By Eneya Phiri Eneya Phiri is a seasoned advocate with four-and-a-half years' experience in nutrition advocacy and communications. He is a keen believer in communications for...

NEX: Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), environmental enteropathy, nutrition, and early child development: making the links

Francis M. Ngure et. Al. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 1308, Every Child's Potential: Integrating Nutrition and Early Childhood Development...

FEX: Agency Profile

Name: International Rescue Committee (IRC) Year founded: 1933 Address: 122, East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10168, USA CEO: David Miliband Phone: + 1 212 551 3000 No. of HQ...

FEX: Artificial feeding in emergencies: experiences from the ongoing Syrian crisis

By Suzanne Mboya Suzanne Mboya is a consultant nutritionist. In 2014 she completed a sixth month mission supporting the Syrian crisis IYCF-E response through a partnership...

FEX: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally)

Name: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally) Established: 2011 (5 year USAID funded project) Address: JSI Research & Training...

FEX: Introduction to the special issue

The most recent Lancet series on maternal and child undernutrition (Bhutta et al, 2013) calculated that even with 90% coverage of specific nutrition interventions (addressing...

Close

Reference this page

Peter Hynes (2016). BabyWASH coalition planned to overcome development silos. Field Exchange 51, January 2016. p93. www.ennonline.net/fex/51/babywash