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Applying the Compendium of Actions for Nutrition: Experiences from Haiti and Myanmar

Sansan Myint is the REACH1 Facilitator in Myanmar.

Agnes Solano is a former REACH Facilitator in Haiti.

Holly D Sedutto is a consultant for UN Network for SUN/REACH Secretariat.

Nicolas Bidault is Acting Global Coordinator for UN Network for SUN/REACH Secretariat.

Listen to an interview with the authors on the ENN podcast channel

The Compendium of Actions for Nutrition (known as the CAN) is a resource developed by the UN Network for SUN/REACH Secretariat following a participative process that engaged external experts and UN agencies. The compendium was initially conceptualised as a resource for REACH facilitators to draw on during multi-sector dialogue at the country level, particularly in nutrition-related policy formulation and planning. Due to the high demand for a practical resource of this sort, the target audience was later expanded to include SUN Government Focal Points and others working in multi- sector nutrition planning and coordination.

Countries have since started to use the CAN according to their specific context. Experiences from Haiti and Myanmar contained in this article provide insights into how the CAN has helped enable them enlist a wider range of nutrition actions from different sectors.

The CAN in a nutshell

The CAN is a resource for countries concerned with implementing multi-sector nutrition actions – both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive – to address all forms of malnutrition. The actions are classified by the type of evidence underpinning them. There is also information on technical tools developed by the UN agencies. The CAN is organised into four main sections: (1) Food, Agriculture and Healthy Diets; (2) Maternal and Child Care; (3) Health; and (4) Social Protection.


REACH in Haiti used the CAN to guide nutrition sensitisation efforts with three distinct stakeholder groups: government representatives, development partners and journalists. This included the development of a Haiti-adapted communications tool articulating the links between the nutrition situation in the country and interventions supported by different sectors in Haiti. The tool (a booklet containing sections on malnutrition and different sectors such as agriculture, WASH and education) aimed to demystify these links and present them in simple language. This was shared with government staff in nutrition-related ministries and development partners in meetings. Several interviewees in a country evaluation2 felt that REACH facilitators had contributed to raising awareness about nutrition and its multisector dimension in particular through the booklet.

The tool was also disseminated during a sensitisation workshop held for about 40 journalists and students at Quisqueya University. In the post-workshop assessment, the journalists said the statistical and geographical data provided would empower them to become more ‘scientific’ professionals and more comfortable in writing about food and nutrition issues. Resulting media coverage included three TV broadcasts on food and nutrition security, engaging government officials including the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister’s office and the Mayor of Cité Soleil, an urban area where food insecurity was found to be particularly high.

REACH was already actively working with government officials and development partners to help employ a multi- sector approach to addressing malnutrition, but this was the first time REACH colleagues had communicated with journalists on the subject. This experience illustrates how the CAN has the potential to be an effective vehicle for helping to mobilise other, less ‘conventional’ nutrition actors who are working at the country level.


The CAN was first applied in Myanmar to set the stage for a comprehensive nutrition stocktaking exercise, led by the Government of Myanmar (GoM) with REACH support. The exercise entailed bringing actors together at a SUN multi- stakeholder platform meeting to identify and prioritise nutrition actions most relevant to the country and its particular context. The stocktaking workshop included 54 participants from SUN networks, including representatives from five government ministries. The natural tendency (not unlike many other countries) was for actors initially to gravitate towards nutrition-specific actions implemented through the health system, but it was acknowledged that this was only part of the picture and that nutrition sensitive-actions are also needed.

The CAN served as a crucial resource to help steer the selection process of core nutrition actions for the country so that a greater multi-sector balance was reflected. For example, actions include ‘sensitising’ social protection measures to nutrition and providing nutritionsensitive agriculture activities, such as crop diversification. The menu of possible options presented in the compendium was helpful in ensuring that the stocktaking encompassed all sectors related to nutrition. In addition, the evidence classification featured in the CAN served as a ‘door opener’ for dialogue with technical practitioners from other sectors and as a means for fostering consensus among diverse nutrition actors. Ultimately, it helped country actors to employ an evidence-driven prioritisation process. The next step is for the same multi-sector group to develop the GoM’s Multi-sector National Plan of Action for Nutrition (MS-NPAN: 2018-2022), due for completion by the end of February 2018. The CAN is one of four key references being used and is likely to help expedite the work to develop the new plan.

“When I was invited for this nutrition workshop I didn’t quite understand why. I thought that this was the business of the health people and that I had nothing to say at the meeting. [But] we found that in the Agriculture Chapter [of CAN], the livestock we were providing to smallscale farmers was indeed one of what they were calling a nutrition-sensitive activity. This means that our livestock work was not far distanced from the nutrition work of the midwives and nurses walking around in the communities. Knowing this will provide us with the impetus to extend our activities, now that we know we are making a difference.”

May Win Shwe, Deputy Director, Livestock Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI)




REACH (Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and undernutrition) is a joint UN initiative of FAO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and IFAD that facilitates the creation and enhancement of country-led coordination mechanisms and brokers participatory, multisector dialogue to implement priority nutrition actions.

Mokbel Genequand M, 2017. Thematic Evaluation – End of Term Evaluation; Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and undernutrition (REACH) – Haiti Case Study Report. Decentralized Evaluation. Geneva.

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Reference this page

Sansan Myint, Agnes Solano, Holly D Sedutto, Nicolas Bidault (). Applying the Compendium of Actions for Nutrition: Experiences from Haiti and Myanmar. Nutrition Exchange 9, January 2018. p25.



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