Menu ENN Search

Can the SUN Movement benefit from Africa’s political blocs?

By Titus Mung'ou on 16 February 2017

How relevant are Africa’s political blocs in advancing the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement agenda? Can the movement tap into the initiatives by the region’s political blocs to achieve its goals?

In my experience with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement activities, I have noted the quest to establish multi-sectoral platforms to tackle malnutrition worldwide.  Thus, nutrition experts and nutrition advocates have embraced the multi-stakeholder approach to drive forward their agenda – bringing together governments, donors, UN agencies, civil societies, business/private sector, research and academic, to play their roles in this noble goal.

“Nutrition touches every sector and every sector touches nutrition. There is need for multi-sectoral involvement in addressing nutrition issues,” said Gerda Verburg, the SUN Movement Coordinator, during the movement’s ‘Public Financing and Managing Results for Nutrition in Africa’workshop in Nairobi, in August 2016.

SUN Movement has made significant achievements in raising the profile of nutrition and bringing together different players especially key decision-makers to tackle malnutrition. Already some countries have SUN and nutrition coordination mechanisms at the Office of the President or Prime Minister such as Uganda and Tanzania, National Office of Nutrition (Madagascar), Ministry of Agriculture (Botswana), National Food and Nutrition Commission (Zambia), among others. To demonstrate their progress in elevating the status of nutrition at country level, senior government officials, ministers and members of parliarment are often in country delegations in SUN events such as the annual Global Gathering.

In Ethiopia, the participation of members of the National Nutrition Coordination Body (NNCB) in a high level forum in Brazil, was a catalyst to a consensus that nutrition would be better served by placing the coordination body in the Prime-Minister or Deputy Prime-Minister’s Office. There is good progress towards this direction.

Though a few countries can demonstate the impact of multi-stakeholder involvement in SUN activities, the gradual development of policies, structures and allocation of resources to scale up nutrition, confirms the gains being made. Food Security and nutrition issues are central in a number of national development plans and budgets in SUN countries.

Furthermore, through advocacy spearheaded by SUN civil societies in Tanzania and Zambia nutrition was included in political parties’ manifestos in the run up to the recent general elections. A handful of countries have formal structures to enable engagement between SUN networks and politicians, such as Tanzania’s Parliamentary Food, Nutrition Security and Children Rights Committee, Zambia’s Parliamentary Caucus on Nutrition, Ghana’s Parliamentarians United Against Hunger and Burkina Faso’s Parliamentarian Network for Nutrition.

Despite the progress made to establish nutrition multi-stakeholder platforms, the momentum to position nutrition as a political and development agenda, hasn’t been smooth or consistent. A major setback to sustainability of nutrition as a political agenda is the nature of politics and political structures in the region - unpredictable and fragile – often shifting development priorities after every election period.

It is in this respect that SUN Movement stakeholders should take note of the recent developments in Africa that provide long-term and sustainable structures likely to outlive political regimes. The leading region’s political blocs have been putting in place development initiatives to address, among others, food security and nutrition issues, in a broad-based development strategy anchored on high level commitments by heads of states. Food security and nutrition targets, earmarked by SUN Movement, can be well-articulated and contextualised, if embedded or aligned to the regional initiatives.

What should SUN Movement do to achieve its goals through the emerging regional blocs’ initiatives? 

Food security and nutrition initiatives by Africa’s political blocs

Positive strides to towards a multi-sectoral approach to addressing food security and nutrition issues has been taking shape, thanks to four African political bodies namely the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), South African Development Community (SADC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). These bodies are focusing on diverse development issues articulated in a declaration by the heads of states and regional frameworks.

The initiatives established include the AU-led Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and NEPAD/SADC’s Knowledge Sharing and Monitoring Platform initiated in December 2014 in response to the commitments made through the Malabo Declaration, the African Union Agenda 2063 and the need to sustain the momentum generated by CAADP Results Framework (2015-2025). On its part, NEPAD/SADC’s initiative seeks to foster evidence-based dialogue and promote a multi-sectoral approach in information and knowledge creation and sharing.

In South Africa, NEPAD/SADC launched a process to establish a regional FNS Knowledge-Sharing Support Platform/Mechanism. The NEPAD-led initiative in collaboration with FAO and contribution of SADC, provides an important opportunity to improve FNS Knowledge and Information-sharing and Monitoring, thereby contributing to improvement of FNS in Africa. Regional ownership and country commitments will be fundamental in achieving this result. 

On its part, CAADP aims to intensify internal communication, engagement and discussions to solidify their agenda, bring on board critical members currently not involved, address key issues, engage organisations and develop instruments for formal engagement.

By the end of 2016, CAADP had identified challenges to be addressed in order to achieve its goals. These include lack of clarity on key issues and a coherent responsive system for gauging needs of countries, inadequate technical and institutional capacity to bring key players together, inadequate resources for these efforts and geographic scope presented by a wide and diverse Africa. At least seven networks are in place and are addressing these challenges.

As a CAADP member, Kenya was fully involved in the development of the East African Community (EAC) CAADP Compact which was adopted at the 9th Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security (SCAFs) in January 2016 and approved by the 34th Council of Ministers held in September 2016.

At the moment, CAADP Country Focal Points are mobilising various actors to contribute to a bi-annual review report on implementation of Malabo Declaration, to be presented the heads of states meeting early 2018.  This presents an opportunity for SUN Focal Points to contribute to progress made in nutrition sector, in line with the indicators in Malabo Declaration.

As noted by Kenya’s CAADP Focal Point Rebecca Wahome, “SUN Focal Point is a core member of CAADP.” A million-dollar question is: How are SUN actors in Africa positioning themselves in the heads of states-driven political blocs that are addressing their objectives?

More like this

FEX: Regional conference on responding to challenges of undernutrition in West Africa

By Christelle Huré, Regional Advocacy Adviser, Action contre la Faim West Africa Regional Office In June 2015, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), in partnership with the SUN...

en-net: FAO Senior Consultancy in Food Security and Nutrition Policy - NIGER - 5 Months

Dear colleagues,

Please see below a vacancy that may be of interest for you..

In the framework of the EU/FAO partnership program FIRST, FAO is looking for a...

NEX: Co-ordinating sectors: Kenya’s Food and Nutrition Security Bill

Gladys Mugambi is the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Focal Point. Marjorie Volege is the SUN Support Officer UNICEF/Ministry of Health. Grace Gichohi is Nutrition Officer...

FEX: Developing guidance and capacities for nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems: lessons learnt, challenges and opportunities

By Charlotte Dufour Charlotte Dufour has worked as Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods Officer in the UN FAO's Nutrition Division in Rome since 2010, focusing on...

NEX: REACHing for the SUN: UN support for scaling up nutrition in Burkina Faso

Dr Doudou Halidou Maimouna and Ousmane Ouedraogo are the REACH co-ordinators in Burkina Faso. Bertine Ouaro is Head of the Nutrition Department at the Ministry of...

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...

FEX: Advocating for nutrition in West Africa: The role of SUN Civil Society Alliances

By Judith Kabore and Laure Serra Judith Kabore is an advocacy officer at the regional office of Action Against Hunger. A journalist by training, Judith worked in the Ministry...

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: SUN Movement update

September 21 2016 at the UNICEF Headquarters in New York was a significant day for the SUN Movement with the inauguration of its new Lead Group - comprising 29 nutrition...

en-net: Nutrition Specialist (Information), P-4, ESARO, Nairobi , Kenya, # 71810

Job no: 494442
Work type: Fixed Term Staff
Location: Kenya
Categories: Nutrition, P-4
If you are a committed, creative professional and are passionate...

FEX: SUN experiences: lessons from Pakistan

By Muhammad Aslam Shaheen and Dr. Ali Ahmad Khan Muhammad Aslam Shaheen is Chief of Nutrition at the Ministry of Planning Development & Reform, Pakistan and is the SUN Focal...

NEX: Championing nutrition in Gabon

An interview with Yves Fernand Manfoumbi, Gabon's Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and the GRAINE Programme1 from October 2016 to February 201). As Minister, Manfoumbi...

NEX: Editorial

Click here to listen to an interview with the authors on the ENN podcast channel It has been a very busy time for the wider nutrition community. There is a sense of urgency to...

FEX: Accessing quality research to enable evidence-informed national policy: experiences from Zimbabwe

By Willie Ganda Willie Ganda is Director for Research Development and Innovation, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science & Technology Development,...

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....

en-net: Call for your experiences on engaging nutrition champions for a new publication.

What is your experience working with nutrition champions, or as a nutrition champion yourself, in making progress for improving nutrition?

The Institute of...

Resource: Multi-sectoral coordination for nutrition in Chad: a comprehensive and dynamic multi-stakeholder platform

My name is Ambarka Youssoufane and, as ENN's Regional Knowledge Management Specialist for West and Central Africa, I often visit countries in the sub-region to talk with...

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: Inter-sectoral coordination for nutrition in Zambia

Summary of research1 Location: Zambia What we know: The level of inter-sectoral coordination needed to address underlying causes of malnutrition is difficult to achieve and...

NEX: A catalyst for scale-up in SUN countries: Experiences of technical assistance for Tajikistan and the Philippines

ENN's SUN Knowledge Management team with contributions from Nutrition International (NI) and Maximising the Quality of Scaling Up Nutrition Plus (MQSUN+) Click here and...