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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Maximizing the Impact of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition

Sylvia Szabo
Sylvia SzaboSave the ChildrenUnited Kingdom

Save the Children

Comments for the Online Consultation on

“Maximizing the Impact of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition”

 

  1. What are your expectations for the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and how could it make a significant difference in improving nutrition and food security of the people in your country within the next ten years?

Putting in place the resources required (financial and non-financial) to meet global, national and local commitments for nutrition to ensure that no child is left behind. Commitment by all governments to meet their international obligations relating to the right to food, health, development and survival with effective policies, funding and implementation. Rallying all stakeholders, including civil society, around a common cause in alignment with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), World Health Assembly (WHA) targets, Scaling up for Nutrition (SUN) and The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) commitments, and human rights standards. Contribution of the UN Decade of Action to effective accountability mechanisms in order to monitor and ensure progress towards SDG2, including the requirement for the goals and targets to be met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society, and the  endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.

  1. What critical activities need to be included in the Work Programme for the implementation of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition to reach the 2025 global nutrition targets? Which activities would need to be accelerated in your country to reach these targets? How could these activities be funded?

Emphasis should be placed on initiatives which will contribute to eliminating exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination in all its forms.  Illustrative but not comprehensive examples of specific activities and policies which should be considered include:

  • Establishing universal child-sensitive social protection that includes specific nutrition objectives.
  • Ensuring universal health coverage to eliminate inequalities.
  • Developing and implementing policies to keep girls and boys in school beyond primary education.
  • Activities around integrated water, sanitation and hygiene, and nutrition response.
  • Developing and implementing policies that build resilience, promote livelihoods and address malnutrition, especially in the most marginalised areas.
  • Establishing innovative partnerships to share experience and knowledge in how to address malnutrition.
  • Establishing social accountability mechanisms at the local level and learning in and across supported countries.
  • Citizen-led data collection funded through innovative strategic partnerships with ICT businesses could help fill data gaps and that enhance accountability.
  • Activities that enable development and implementation of policies for control of overweight and obesity at all levels and across social strata.
  • Promoting and supporting mothers to start breastfeeding their newborns within the first hour of birth, to breastfeed exclusively for six months, and to continue breastfeeding—with complementary foods—for two years or beyond.

With 16 million adolescent girls giving birth each year, urgent attention is needed to keep girls in school, delay the age of marriage and increase access to family planning. Targeting women and girls wit initiatives to improve their nutrition only when they are pregnant is often too late to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, because this often misses a crucial part of the first 1,000 day window. In addition, adolescent girls are more likely to die during childbirth than older women, or to be left nutritionally depleted by pregnancy. Their babies are also more likely to die or be born with nutritional deficits. The infants who survive have a greater risk of growing up to be stunted mothers or fathers. Therefore:

  • Governments, donors, academics and NGOs should invest in platforms (including but not limited to schools) to reach adolescent girls

The frequency and impact of extreme weather events are set to rise in the future, with increasing impact on people’s food and nutrition security, therefore:

  • National governments, with the support of the international community, should deal with chronic malnutrition as a long-term priority within integrated humanitarian and development action that strengthens the resilience of vulnerable population groups.
  •  Governments of countries vulnerable to environmental shocks should invest in and manage well emergency food reserves, in order to reduce food price volatility and ensure that countries can quickly deal with food shortages.
  1. What can be done to accelerate and improve the quality of commitments from the various actors? What role(s) should public and private actors play in monitoring their implementation?

Commitments and activities to address malnutrition for all should begin with the moral and legal imperative for the right to food and nutrition – drawing upon the right to food, health, development and survival.

For those governments without national nutrition targets in place, these should be developed taking into account national trends and context and harmonising relevant frameworks (such as WHA targets, SDGs, ICN2 commitments). The second ‘Nutrition for Growth’ summit is the right place to announce national nutrition targets. Appropriate finances must be in place.

In order to ensure progress against malnutrition for all, all actors should adopt a ‘leave no-one behind’ approach – an appropriate policy and programme response based on the national context accompanied by robust accountability mechanisms. 

All actors should collect, analyse and share nutrition data disaggregated by, at a minimum, income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability and geographic location. Sample sizes for disaggregated groups should be large enough to enable effective monitoring of outcomes, collected on a regular and systematic basis, and to make results accessible to all, while protecting the privacy and safety of people. This should be a core part of SDG accountability as part of the ‘leave no one behind’ agenda, with capacity development to ensure its realisation.

Governments should support regular data collection and quantitative data analysis to assess the burden of acute malnutrition, nutrition and infection (including malaria and HIV) as well as examine trends and patterns regarding health-seeking behaviors.

4. How can other relevant forums, such as the CFS and the UNSCN, contribute, and how can other movements (e.g.     human rights, environment) be involved in the Decade?

Existing networks like the SUN Civil Society Network can play a key role in coordinating and delivering adequate nutrition for all with appropriate support. Involving human rights, equity and environment movements are key to the sustainability and success of efforts and should be brought in at all levels to ensure active engagement across the board. CFS and UNSCN can be used as mechanisms for tracking efforts and supporting cross learning. CIVICUS can be a key stakeholder in supporting civil society space, direct citizen participation and social accountability.  Where there are no effective governance structures, alternative means must be sought to ensure that these basic needs are met.

 

Comments provided by:

-       Claire Blanchard – Head of Advocacy & Nutrition, Global Theme on Health and Nutrition, Save the Children International

-       John Engels - Director, Advocacy, Communications & Knowledge Management, Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children US

-       Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, Humanitarian Nutrition Adviser, Save the Children UK

-       Sylvia Szabo, Nutrition Policy and Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children UK

-       Giorgiana Rosa, Senior Health Advocacy & Policy Adviser, Save the Children UK

-       Katherine Richards, Senior Nutrition Policy and Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children UK