For the first time in Uganda, district level officials from different departments – administration, planning, agriculture, health, education, community development and water – are working together in teams, to make and implement policy in a coordinated way to combat malnutrition. The multi-stakeholder partnership is a move towards realisation of the objectives of the national nutrition agenda.
Multi-stakeholder partnership approach to strengthen nutrition leadership and governance in uganda
Malnutrition is a serious problem in Uganda. One third of children under five years old are stunted (having low height for their age) and almost half suffer from anaemia. Yet, until recently, policy on nutrition was not implemented in a coordinated way at local level. The national government did set up decentralized teams responsible for nutrition policy at district level in 2014, but at first there was no clear idea on how to form the decentralized leadership and governance needed to make good policy.
‘One would say that nutrition is mainly an issue for health an d agricultural officers’, says Jan Brouwers of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), ’but the underlying causes relate to much broader issues. Education, water, finance, social and gender issues all need to be taken into account in policy making, and in planning the implementation of policy.’ The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Nutrition Secretariat, the Ministry of Local Government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA), worked together with CDI to strengthen nutrition leadership and governance at both the national and district levels. This partnership, known as the District Nutrition Coordination Committee (DNCC) Initiative, was funded by USAID and ends in 2017.
In the teams forming the District Nutrition Coordinating Committees, representatives from all these sectors need to work together in the same direction, with a common vision, says Brouwers. This needs a multi-stakeholder partnership, which is something CDI has extensive experience with. The principles guiding such processes were adapted to the Ugandan context and used in a series of meetings with stakeholders.
The result is that nine districts now have officially approved multi-sectoral District Nutrition Action Plans. There is also improved communication between sectors and more awareness among politicians and technical leadership of the importance of nutrition. The process of getting these district nutrition coordination teams to function is also well documented and useful to the Ugandan government in scaling out operations of the DNCCs across districts. In-country capacity of 30 Ugandan trainers to facilitate multi-sectoral nutrition planning will be built by CDI and FANTA to support similar efforts in other districts.