Scaling up Nutrition – civil society’s key role

22nd March 2016

Over the past five years big strides have been made to ensure that nutrition remains on the global, national and community-level agenda, writes Christine Muyama of Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Scaling up Nutrition.

With the recent adoption of the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, the critical role that nutrition plays in development is now written into the international development agenda for years to come.

Civil society has played an important role in these achievements through ensuring that ordinary people, at the country and community levels, are educated about the importance of nutrition to both their health and the development of the country. Communities have come to the realization that the consequences of malnutrition are not always visible.

Grassroots advocacy can empower communities and open up lines of communication between communities and leaders. The fight against malnutrition requires commitment and a robust process of awareness raising so that everybody is aware of their roles and responsibilities in the scaling up of nutrition commitments.

The members of the civil society community have also been key in the follow up of the commitments made by their governments during the Nutrition For Growth meeting in their respective countries through emphasizing that nutrition security and ending malnutrition in communities is possible.

Uganda – keeping nutrition a top priority

In Uganda there have been a number of civil society led commitments to ensure that nutrition remains on the national and local radar.

Through the Uganda Civil Society coalition on Scaling Up Nutrition (UCCO-SUN), it has generated sufficient evidence about malnutrition and the dire consequences malnutrition has for Uganda now as well as future impacts. The Action 2015 campaign was launched in Uganda which included, consultations with government negotiators to ensure that nutrition remained a priority on the Ugandan Government agenda in the lead up to the negotiations for the SDGs. Cultural leaders and civil society participated in the annual Nutrition and Health week to ensure that nutrition remained on the to-do list for all Ugandan citizens.

Malawi – tracking nutrition spend at local level

Engagement with members of parliament has created great momentum in ensuring that focus on nutrition is maintained, especially at the community level. After a two day advocacy meeting between members of parliament and the SUN Civil Society Alliance in Malawi (CSONA) parliamentarians have become key in tracking financial commitments made for Nutrition at a community level. There have been commitments from 15 members of parliament to being nutrition champions. Engaging the media in nutrition advocacy has enabled communities to become informed about nutrition.

SUN Global Gathering 2015 – making the SDGs relevant on the ground

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Global Gathering will be a great opportunity to share ideas for creating new areas for synergy between different civil society organizations. It is a great opportunity as we engage in the process of making the SDGs relevant locally. There is a lot being done but still more to do. The time is now to end malnutrition!

Ramatu Jalloh who coordinates the SUN Civil Society Alliance in Sierra Leone has written for the Eldis blog about her work and her hopes for the SUN Global Gathering.