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Using evidence to lead the advocacy

By Ambarka Youssoufane on 24 October 2016

Ambarka is the Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN) knowledge management specialist in West and Central Africa. He is based in Dakar, Senegal. He has years of experience with roles in governmental and civil society authorities in Niger.

According to International Land Coalition, advocacy is “the strategic use of information to influence a policy, which affects the life of the weakest populations”.

The advocacy of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement is based above all on scientific evidence and malnutrition data and indicators to stimulate change in favour of nutrition.

According to a number of participants in the twenty-third round of SUN country teleconferences, held from 9 to 13 May 2016, in which over 300 participants were registered, notable changes were achieved through advocacy based on evidence and persuasive data on the adverse consequences of malnutrition and/or the interest in acting against it.

The most commonly used data is probably still that relating to the prevalence of the different forms of malnutrition. Data on the nutritional situation was notably used in Chad, where the food and nutrition crisis of 2010 served as an argument in advocating for the establishment of a monthly meeting with the President of the Republic on health indicators. Since 2013 and after Chad joined the SUN movement, nutrition indicators were brought into these meetings, thereby enabling nutrition to be discussed at a very high level. Nutrition data was used in numerous other countries including Mozambique, where a 2009 evaluation of the PRPS document revealed stagnation in the nutritional situation and recommended a multisectoral action at national level. This evaluation led the government to define nutrition as one of the priorities of its Development and Intercultural Education (DICE) programme.

The global prevalence or rate of acute malnutrition is regularly cited as a reason for Scaling Up Nutrition. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a global acute malnutrition rate of 10 per cent or more is an alert situation and at 15 per cent a nutritional emergency situation. These different rates are therefore used to draw the attention of national authorities and international decision makers to implement appropriate nutrition actions.

Severity of malnutrition by prevalence ranges (per cent) WHO

Indicator Low (0) Medium (1) High (2) Very High (2)
Stunting <20 20-29 30-39 >=40
Wasting <5 5-9 10-14 >=15

According to the SUN focal point for Niger, the data on the nutritional situation, characterized by high rates of malnutrition was repeatedly used to draw the attention of the authorities to the need to prioritize nutrition in Niger. This led the government to draw up a number of strategy documents, including the national nutrition security policy, and to create a national nutrition directorate.

In addition to data on the prevalence of malnutrition, studies were carried out to evaluate various social and economic implications of malnutrition. One of these was a malnutrition cost analysis. We now effectively have very precise methods for evaluating the loss of earnings resulting from malnutrition. This data also serves as scientific evidence used to advocate in favour of nutrition.

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Potential Negative Impacts of Cash Transfers on Nutrition Status

7 January 2013: Dear All I am looking for information on the potential negative impacts of cash transfers on the nutrition status. I would grateful if you can share with me reports/publications or even your field experience and lessons learnt. Thanks Rogers (rogerswanyama@yahoo.com)

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11 January 2013: Hello, I'm surprise, no one have any cue about that? I'm really interesting to know too. Chantal

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13 January 2013: HI The main problems with cash transfer are sustainability problems. Because it increase dependency. In emergency context cash transfer is ok, but in recovery phases if in spite of government willingness to reform lands and agriculture sectors....

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14 January 2013: According to my experience cash transfer activities varies according to the geographical areas, agriculture productivity in the area and mainly involvement of the beneficiaries if women are engaged in cash transfer projects it would be produce...

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14 January 2013: Dear Roger, I would use the term ''associated risks" rather than negative impact. Based on the global success models, as long as the social transfers (either inkind or cash, conditional/unconditional) reach the intended beneficiaries, the...

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18 January 2013: In india we have raging debate on the introduction of cash transfers. Amirtya Sen came out to make a statement that cash transfers may not improve women and children's status because of biased social priorities within the...

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29 January 2013: Dear All Thanks a lot for your responses. Regards

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2 April 2015: In the case where the choice is between the options of cash transfer or food aid, there are situations where cash transfer may not be appropriate and food aid may be a better option. These include situations where markets are not functional or...

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2 April 2015: Hi Dear Anselimo Makokha on Thursday 2 April at 6:04 AM In my idea towards the potential negative impacts of cash transfers on the nutrition status. First- the HH members will use other areas instead of child's need to feel it properly Second-...

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2 April 2015: food vouchers are also considered in situations where markets are in existence. Vouchers are given to mothers with commodities etc written on this and they can obtain those commodities from the authorized vendors. Vendors in return encaseh those...

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2 April 2015: ' Pl note not all fathers abuse cash': I agree that Men could be the solution of these negative attitudes if they are involved at the start up of the process in a participative approach. They can be of great support to women and be model to their...

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16 June 2016: Dear All, There is a lot of literature from Latin America on the Impact of Cash Transfer Programs(conditional) on child nutrition , though studies have shown mixed results on anthropometry especially stunting.I am wondering if there are any...

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17 June 2016: Hello Rogers Maybe an interesting read for you will be the literature review that we in the REFANI consortium wrote last year, to summarise the evidence on the impacts of cash transfers on nutritional status with a focus on humanitarian...

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