24 September 2016

Our Food Systems = 3 billion with low quality diets. Let's start fixing it. Now.

Yesterday, at FAO, we launched the Global Panel report on “Food Systems and Diets: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century".  About 120 people gave up their time to hear about the report. 

The Global Panel is co-chaired by John Kufuor, the former President of Ghana and World Food Prize laureate and by Sir John Beddington, former Chief Scientist to the UK Government and it is hosted well at the London International Development Centre.  The independent report was support by UKAid and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report basically says the following things:

1. Diet is by far the main risk factor for the global burden of disease
2. Diets are not getting better with income
3. The consequences of poor diet go well beyond poor health and undermine sustainable development
4. The food system is a big part of the problem – and a big part of the solution

5. Policymakers have many options to move food systems from villain to hero, and the report attempts to expand this set of options

6. The wide set of options and the incomplete data and evidence base make the selection of the right set of policies a real challenge

7.  New data, new tools and new ideas (all provided by the report) are needed to help policymakers develop a set of food system policy responses that are right for their diet problems

8.  Policymakers need to make more compelling arguments for why this issue is so important—so they can bring other stakeholders into the picture, and the report aims to help here.

Perhaps the biggest message from the report to policymakers is: wake up!

Diets are the main cause of illness, they are not going to get better any time soon, and the consequences of inaction are staggering.

Members of the audience corralled me after the talk.  Perhaps the most glaring omission in the report is the treatment of consumers as shapers of food systems.  It is true that we don’t spend much time in the report on nutrition education and behaviour change of consumers.  This is definitely an important area and one where we need more answers.  But we decided to focus more on the behavior change of policymakers in the public sphere and decision makers in the private sector.  They too need to change their behavior if food environments are to make it easier for people to make healthy choices.  Consumers base their purchases on culture, income, prices, food quality, taste, nutrition and desirability, but if they are priced out of healthy foods there is not too much they can do about it individually or even, perhaps, through consumer collective action. 

Anna Lartey the Director of Nutrition at FAO said we have all missed an opportunity to get a diet quality indicator and goal into the SDGs, but let’s try to get them into national goals. I agree.  If we don’t know whether food systems are diet quality friendly and if we don’t know what diets look like, then we cannot hold public and private decision makers accountable -- and that hampers change. 

These days it seems like everyone is writing reports on food systems and diet.  The Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts has empowered a team (which I am a member of and which is led by Jessica Fanzo) to guide CFS members in this policy area.  The challenge for this report will now be to add value to the Global Panel one.  Unfortunately this will be easy.  Why unfortunately?  Because the problem is so wide ranging there are areas that the Global Panel did not highlight (such as consumer behavior change and collective action). In addition, this area is so dynamic that new challenges, opportunities, data and evidence can be factored into the HLPE report due out in mid-2017. 

This diets and food systems problem is so big and so long in the making it is not likely to be fixed quickly, but let’s start to get serious about it now.  

20 September 2016

10 More Songs About Social Change

Folks, in this time between leaving IFPRI and moving to GAIN I thought I would indulge one of my great passions--music.

About 6 years ago I did a list of social change songs.  We often say improvements in nutrition are underpinned by social change. So now it is surely time for another list.

I picked songs that (a) I like, (b) say something about social change, (c) are not too embarrassing and (d) did not appear on the 2010 list.

Here they are.

1. "To Hell With Poverty" by the Gang of Four.  A classic from the early 80s.   A song about the hopelessness induced by living in poverty.

2.  "Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen -- one of the first songs to bring AIDS into the mainstream. An an amazing song.

3.  "John, I'm only Dancing" by David Bowie.  In 1971 -- a brave song about being gay in those bleak days.

4.  "People have the Power" by Patti Smith. Much prefer this to Lennon's "Power to the People".  Why? The people already have the power.

5.  "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  When Macklemore was cool, about 5 years ago.  A beautiful song (guest vocals by Mary Lambert) about love, straight or gay.

6.  "Baltimore" by Prince.  A recent song about the death of Freddy Grey, shot in Baltimore. "Nobody got in nobody's way. So I guess you could say it was a good day.  At least a little better than the day in Baltimore".  Chilling.

7.  "Isn't it a Pity" by Nina Simone.  This live version was dedicated to the just murdered MLK.

8.  "The Community of Hope" by PJ Harvey. A song about shrinking the big food deserts in the poor parts of Washington DC.  Didn't go down too well with the DC Council, I'm told.

9.  "A Change is Gonna Come" by the Fugees.  Lauryn Hill gives the full treatment to Sam Cooke's great great song.

10. "Them Belly is Full (But We Hungry)" by Bob Marley and the Wailers.  "A hungry mob is an angry mob". Policymakers take note.

And if you want to comment on these or add some, do it below!

14 September 2016

Reflections on 3 years of work with the Global Nutrition Report

On the 1st of October I step down as the co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report's Independent Expert Group and begin my work at GAIN.

I have been working hard on the GNR for nearly 3 years and I thought it would be a good time to share some reflections.  Here they are:

1.  The decision to focus the GNR on all countries and all forms of malnutrition was a good one.  Back in 2013 this was not by any means a given—there were varying views among the GNR stakeholders.  Some felt a focus on malnutrition “in all its forms” would draw attention away from undernutrition.  While this is certainly a risk, and one we have worked hard to manage, the GNR Independent Expert Group has always felt the risks of separating out different forms of malnutrition would be much greater.  The focus on all forms of malnutrition has allowed new alliances to form, new audiences and actors to be brought into the fight against malnutrition, new concepts and analyses to be drawn on and new actions to be contemplated and developed.  With 44% of countries facing a double burden of undernutrition and overweight and obesity, these connections are even more relevant.

2. The decision to make the GNR dig below nutrition status outcomes has also been important.  While the database for nutrition outcomes is weak, with much missing data, the database for things like investment, policies, legislation, coverage and commitments is even weaker.  It is hard to hold governments and other stakeholders solely accountable for nutrition outcomes as so many external factors are at play, but if the coverage of nutrition programmes is weak, if social protection and WASH programmes pay little heed to nutrition, if the breastmilk substitute code is not enshrined in legislation, if nutrition spending is low and flatlining and if employer workforces are not protected nutritionally in the workplace, then we know exactly who to hold accountable.

3.  A lot can be done with existing data.  The GNR does not collect new data, but uses existing data to track progress, gain new insights and make recommendations for action.  Perhaps it should, but there is a surprising amount that can be done with existing data:  things that are not being done.  Outcome data are available, but progress in them is not frequently enough linked to targets.  Overlaps in outcome data are not presented frequently enough.  Budget data are available, just not assembled in the right way for nutrition purposes.  Commitment data is available but not assembled and analysed.  Some data disaggregations are available but often they are glossed over in national numbers.

4.  The nutrition community has been really generous in its willingness to contribute to different GNRs.  We must have had over 250 different contributors over the past 3 years and the vast majority have been easy to work with: egos and logos have been checked at the door and we have gotten on with the work of shining a light on success and stasis.  Long may this continue.

5. The lack of analyses on why this country or that region or this actor has been successful in improving nutrition status was surprising.  We have tried to fill this gap and to encourage others (like CIFF who are supporting a set of case studies called Stories of Change) to do the same.  I believe it is vital to do more to fill the gaps.  In nutrition we need to see all the pictures: from things that work in one intervention in one region to things that have worked at a country level in several countries.  The incentives from scientific journals are to slice and dice our stories, but we have to work hard to stitch them together so we can see the woods for the trees--and especially to inspire those who are not in the nutrition echo chamber. 

6.  Despite our best efforts, it has been difficult to engage with those outside the nutrition community, and the GNR has only just begun to make progress on this.  In the first few GNRs it was important to engage and hopefully energise those within the nutrition community and try to generate some common language, statistics and messages. But it is past time to take the messages to other groups, groups that can expand commitment to nutrition to accelerate improvements (e.g. food systems, climate, early child development etc.).  How to do this?  It takes strategic alliances and that takes diplomacy and legwork.  Who has the incentive to do this? Everyone.  Who has the responsibility? No-one, as far as I can tell.  I don’t have the answer to how to do this.  It boils down to mandates and leadership.  Mandates make it easier, but leadership needs to transcend the lack of mandates.  We need people like Jim Kim and Akin Adesina, the Presidents of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, respectively, to not lose interest in nutrition—and whose job is that?  Everyone in the nutrition community.

7. The GNR has not done a great job of connecting with the private sector.  The reporting requirements are seen by some companies as too onerous, and the treatment of business in the GNR has been seen by some as too negative.  Businesses have hoped that the GNR would highlight the positive role they can play, and those suspicious of business have been concerned about whitewashing. This stalemate is a shame and is something I want to help fix in my new role at GAIN.  Business is too present in nutrition to say we won’t engage.  But its presence is not uniformly positive.  The goal of the GNR should be to help businesses to the right thing and make it harder for them to do the wrong thing.  The GNR should also help others to navigate this complex terrain of business and nutrition by promoting transparency in all dealings.  The chapter on business in the 2015 GNR has lots of potentially useful ideas on how to do this, but as far as I can tell, very few have been picked up on.  We need to work harder in this area.

8. Finally, I am reminded of how a small number of people can make a difference.  Not to blow our own trumpet too much but the core GNR team is a small one.  The independent expert group of 20 people each give us 20 days of their time a year.  We have 1.5 comms staff, and 1.5 data analytics staff, 3 co-chairs (summing to 1 full time equivalent) and 1 full time equivalent of management time.  That is 5 FTEs in the secretariat and 2 FTEs in the expert group.  Not much for a report that has been downloaded 70,000 times in 2016 alone, which has been used to influence hundreds and hundreds of decisions (we have our own examples of 60-70) and which has (we are told) changed the narrative on nutrition.  Of course the GNR team has had help: a great Stakeholder Group with 4 wonderful co-chairs over the 3 years; and support from more than 10 donors, many of whom have invested expertise way beyond the hard currency of dollars, euros and pounds. Support from – and collaboration with – partners in the nutrition community and beyond has been critical to the GNR’s reach so far.  All of these groups have supported, inspired, problem solved and championed the report in countless ways – and they have done so collectively.

I thank all of the above actors, organisations and people (and all of you reading this). Nutrition and the GNR needs you to remain restless for-- and engaged in -- change. I will commit to doing everything in my power to support the GNR from my new position at GAIN.  (More on that later.)

20 July 2016

So, Why Did I Join GAIN?

My warm thanks to the hundreds of you who have sent me messages of congratulations about my recent appointment to the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).  So, why did I decide to apply for the GAIN Executive Director position and why did I accept the Board’s offer to join (I begin on October 1)? 

First, much of GAIN’s work revolves around improving access to food that is safe, nutritious and affordable.  Poor quality diets and diet related conditions represent the largest set of risk factors for the global burden of disease -- greater than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.  These poor quality diets have massive economic consequences – equivalent to a having a global financial crisis every year, according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report.  This state of affairs reflects enormous food system failures.  

The food environments that consumers make decisions in are not helping them make food choices that support high quality diets.  That is because these diet choices are unaffordable, not available, or are not framed by businesses and governments as desirable.  This makes improving the food environment, and the food system that underlies it, such an important challenge for the achievement of a wide range of Sustainable Development Goals. Food is not the only thing that is important for nutrition status—we all know that—but it is the thing that is least easy to change through public action alone (unlike say water and sanitation, health facilities and schools) and it is important for all forms of malnutrition. Public sector leadership on setting priorities and on establishing and enforcing regulatory frameworks is essential if businesses and NGOs are to play a positive role in nutrition, but the public sector cannot do it on its own.

That brings me to the second reason: food systems are not mainly populated by bureaucrats, but by consumers and businesses.  Some of the businesses—whether small, medium, large or very large--act positively for nutrition, some act negatively and some do both.  By working with businesses that have positive track records in nutrition –and evaluating those efforts independently--we can begin to change the food system to work harder to give consumers choices that support the pursuit of improved diets.  For businesses that do not have a good track record, we should be able to explain to them—with evidence--why what they do is negative for nutrition and what they can do to change that.  In this way GAIN and other organizations can make it easier for everyone to understand when, why and how it makes sense to engage businesses in efforts to accelerate malnutrition reduction.  Changing norms about businesses and nutrition away from “business=good” and “business=bad” towards something more nuanced and which helps identify and manage conflicts of interest, would be a major contribution. 

Third, it seems to me that there are not enough people and organisations working in this space, namely on how to make food systems more nutrition friendly.  There are lots of reports available now on what to do, but few have credibly evaluated attempts to actually innovate for change in the system.  GAIN and others have the opportunity to really populate this space with examples of things that were tried and worked (or did not).  The key is to learn and share the learning with others.  Hence the alliance- building role of GAIN is absolutely essential to moving forwards.  We all know that to end malnutrition we have to form alliances that are powerful enough to counteract the powerful forces that generate malnutrition.  In part this means people and organisations getting on with their jobs and doing them well, but in part it is about the strategic and tactical joining of forces to accomplish things that single organisations cannot do on their own.  GAIN, if it does this sensitively, carefully and wisely, can help build new positive alliances to end malnutrition, identifying ways of conducting due diligence on potential partners--whether from the public or private sector--and documenting behavior that is essential if nutrition status is to be improved and not diminished.   

Finally, I have been really impressed by the quality of the GAIN Board and staff that I have met.  They are clearly driven by a vision of ending malnutrition.  And they have brought GAIN a long way forward in a short space of time (GAIN is only 15 next year).  I really look forward to working with them to take GAIN to the next level.  What does success look like?  It is too early to tell, and this is just my opinion as of now, but in 10 years time I would like to see GAIN contribute to a handful of widely scaled innovations (systems, institutional, governance, technological) that have made it easier for those who are malnourished to claim sustainable access to food that is nutritious, safe and affordable. 

GAIN and the entire nutrition community have a fantastic chance to change the way we think and act about how food systems--and the actors within them--can work better for good nutrition.

Come and work with us to make it a reality.

16 July 2016

Three quick reflections from the 2016 IDS-IFPRI Nutrition Summer School

We just completed another IDS-IFPRI-Transform Nutrition Summer School.  I co-convene this with Nick Nisbett from IDS and Purnima Menon from IFPRI.

We had another great cohort of knowledgeable, committed and hardworking participants, drawn largely from the policy and programme world, who worked with the convenors of the 5 day course to go through the causes, consequences and solutions to ending malnutrition.

The Transforming Nutrition Class of 2016
As usual the course was a lot of fun and involved a lot of learning on all sides.  Here are a few quick reactions.

1. The participants were looking beyond the usual sectors for solutions that might be useful for nutrition

Where was the work on climate change (impacts of and strategies for mitigation)?  Where was the work on education (keeping girls in school, delaying age of first birth, teaching kids about high quality diets)?  We did expand the food systems section of the course, but the participants wanted more.  Maybe we will have to have parallel sessions next year. 

2.  There was a real thirst for how to put solutions together

So if you are in a region that experiences this kind of a malnutrition problem, and we can identify 30 things to do to improve the situation, how do you decide which are the priorities and how to sequence those?  We noted that there are precious few tools to help with this and one of our group suggested we use more systems thinking next time around to do this.  Good idea.  We also need to develop new tools. 

the participants working hard on their nutrition plans
3.  Finally, I was struck by how few of these courses there are throughout the world

I don't get it. Maybe it is as simple as not being able to demonstrate the benefit of the course in terms of cold hard cash to prospective investors.

But surely this problem bedevils most education initiatives.  And the participant evaluations of the course are great, and demand--the ultimate judge of value added-- is strong for the course (we can only accept 1 in 3 applicants).
our World Bank alumnus from 2014 

One qualitative indicator of benefit was the presentation of a class of 2014 participant who reached out to us to present at the course. He is a World Bank staffer working on nutrition in Lao.

He gave a great presentation that showed very clearly how the course has helped him and his team develop diagnostics with the Lao colleagues to really zero in on the key links in the Lao nutrition chain that need to be addressed.
Purnima (IFPRI) and Adam (TFNC, Tanzania) 

me, reaching for the data
When I move to GAIN on October 1,  I will certainly be working with GAIN colleagues to look at whether these immersions that bring together practitioners and evidence are a useful thing to do for our mission.

And get ready for the 2017 IDS-IFPRI course, held in July 2017.  Applications will be accepted early in 2017.  Check out this webpage early in 2017.

06 July 2016

Data: What India needs to end malnutrition by 2030

It may seem like a no-brainer to say that we need data to guide efforts to end malnutrition. 

Would you run an economy without a regular stream of credible data? You'd be flying blind if you did, and we know what happens if you try to do that. And yet this is precisely the situation that those trying to end malnutrition in India find themselves in.

Until the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) data from 2013-14, seven years had elapsed since the last nationally representative nutrition survey, the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS 3). We hear that NFHS 4, the next big government survey, is in the field and we very much hope it will be out by 2018. If it is, that will be a gap of five years since the RSOC.
Why is data important?

As the 2016 Global Nutrition Report reminds us, it is important because it tells us which types of malnutrition are being reduced and how fast that is happening. If we know this we can adjust efforts and reallocate resources before it is too late. It is also important for accountability: We need to know how resources have been allocated and the effect they are having if we are to assess the performance of key stakeholders, whether from the government, civil society, the development agencies or businesses.

What type of data is critical? There are at least five.

First, we need to know the extent of malnutrition: Where it is and how fast it is (hopefully) decreasing. In India, based on the RSOC data and the Global Nutrition Report, the speed of decline in stunting rates has improved as has the speed of improvement in exclusive breastfeeding rates and this is great news. But the rate of wasting of under-five's remains high at 15.1 per cent, adult diabetes rates are increasing and are currently 9.5 per cent and women's anaemia rates are essentially static at 48.1 per cent, one of the world's worst (170th out of 185; China and Brazil are under 20 per cent, Sri Lanka is 26 per cent and Nepal is 36 per cent). Data tells us where to apply the accelerator, where to try to apply the brakes and when to turn to different priorities.

Second, we need to know whether high-impact nutrition interventions are reaching the people they are supposed to reach. Interventions cannot work if they do not reach families at risk of malnutrition. India has a patchy record on coverage: Some interventions and practices such as exclusive breastfeeding have high rates of coverage but the coverage of infant and young child complementary feeding programmes is poor, with these infants and young children showing very poor diet adequacy and diversity. Coverage is where the rubber hits the road for nutrition action. We need to know whether the roads are seeing any rubber-and whether they are the right roads.

Third, we need to know more about how well certain sectors are doing in supporting nutrition improvement. Public distribution systems that use micronutrient-rich foods are more nutrition-sensitive than ones that do not. Water and sanitation programmes that have a child-centred focus are more nutrition-sensitive than those that do not. Cash-transfer programmes that incorporate some behaviour change communication work around nutrition will be more nutrition-sensitive than those that do not. The only way to assess the nutrition-sensitivity of these sectors is to go through the national and state and district budgets - as NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy recently said - line by line, and designate certain line items, say, 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 per cent allocations to nutrition. If they are fully nutrition-sensitive they will be given a 100 per cent weight. If they are not nutrition-sensitive at all they will score zero per cent. The challenge is to increase the overall percentage allocated to nutrition. To meet that challenge, we need data.

Fourth, we need the first three types of data at the state and sub-state levels. As the India Health Report clearly shows, different states and different districts have different nutrition problems, have different capacities to address them and show different levels of political commitment and leadership. Moreover, the distance between people and their leaders narrows as we move towards the district and community levels, and so, accountability is easier to build. To guide action and promote everyday accountability, we need more disaggregated data.

Fifth, we need to know what works. If we don't know whether a nutrition programme actually works, where it works, for whom it works, why it works and how it works, then we are, again, flying blind, wasting resources and acting irresponsibly. More research funding inside and outside India needs to be directed towards making Indian nutrition interventions more effective and more easily scaled up. Innovations need to be developed, piloted, tested and, if cost effective, scaled up. While the costs of evaluating interventions are not trivial, as the 2014 Global Nutrition Report showed, the benefit-cost ratios of identifying and scaling up the interventions that work to prevent malnutrition are huge: Over 34 to 1 for India. The implementation of a national, state or district economic strategy without reliable and regular data would not be attempted-investors simply would not take any such strategy seriously. And yet this is tolerated for a nutrition strategy.

The signing of the Sustainable Development Goals by the Indian government provides the perfect opportunity for India to develop its own dashboard of nutrition indicators-one that is linked to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) targets. The hardest thing for any government to do is to put in place measures for its people to hold it accountable. But all governments need to act confidently and match the bravery exhibited by the mothers, fathers and families that struggle to prevent and cope with the malnutrition that affects too many of the world's next generation. 

A government that stands up and allows itself to be counted on nutrition is a government whose bravery will be rewarded by an incredible legacy-the ending of malnutrition by 2030.

03 June 2016

Guest blog: Investing in civil society is the ultimate commitment to sustaining momentum for nutrition

It is not often that I have guest bloggers on Development Horizons, but I feel so strongly about this topic that this was a no-brainer. 

Dear governments and donors: investing in civil society is the ultimate commitment to sustaining the momentum for nutrition.  Your Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers will sooner or later enough fixate on another issue.  But once you light a fire in the hearts and minds of citizens about malnutrition, that fire will burn on--it just needs enough oxygen to make sure it lights the way to effective advocacy, implementation and accountability.  Claire Blanchard's blog will help you make your case for funding CSOs so they can help end malnutrition by 2030.  

Dr Claire Blanchard, SUN CSN coordinator, makes the case for supporting civil society
Civil society plays an essential role within the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, making the link between communities and the national and international platforms where governments, donors, agencies and others meet. In 39 high-burden countries, local, national and international organisations working on nutrition have come together into civil society alliances (CSAs). These CSAs occupy a unique position in the nutrition movement with many now being a recognised counterpart to government, with a place at the table and influence on nutrition policy and implementation.
Why are these alliances important in nutrition improvement?
They coordinate civil society to speak with one voice, raise the profile of nutrition, enrich nutrition policies by channelling the voices of those directly suffering from malnutrition, highlight the gender needs, promote and ‘walk the talk’ of accountability, strengthen local capacity, build sustainability of all nutrition efforts and are a real added value for money.
So what can civil society do that others can’t
Civil society operates at ground level in the communities most affected by the impact of poverty and poor nutrition – making these organisations ideally placed to design, deliver and monitor programmes, track nutrition-related spending, and verify that governments are delivering on commitments.
Civil society can:
ü  Share community knowledge of the needs of those directly suffering from malnutrition – as well as what works - to shape policies.
ü  Contribute to implementing nutrition actions and monitoring progress and impact.
ü  Raise community awareness of the importance of good nutrition and support them in understanding how to change behaviour.
ü  Help champions and citizens advocate for action and investment – and help people hold governments accountable for their commitments.
Investing in civil society can have significant impact
ü  In Peru, chronic infant malnutrition has been halved in less than a decade. Civil society advocacy has been a key driver of this progress sustaining prioritisation of nutrition.
ü  In Zambia, the CSA used public awareness and media campaigns to ignite national debate and convinced MPs to form All Party Parliamentary Caucus on food and nutrition
ü  In Guatemala, the CSA have 22 youth groups auditing the implementation of - and flag gaps in - the national 1,000 days strategy in ‘hard to reach communities’ – some suffering from as high as 90% malnutrition rates.
ü  In Zimbabwe, the Nyazhou Garden Project aiming at improving household income, food and nutrition security of vulnerable women in poor communities have changed the lives of 60 villagers. Sekai Tembo, a 72 year old widow said the project had completely changed her life.
“When my husband died, I had no choice but to carry on with life, though it was hard. I had no cattle, and you know the importance of draught animal power in our lives, but since I joined this project I now have two goats. Before, I used to do gardening but it would only sustain me and my family but now the produce is feeding me, my two grandchildren and I sell the surplus to surrounding villages. I get $15 dollars per week, which is $30 per month because the other two weeks the vegetables would be sprayed. Previously, it was hard to get hold of only $2,” Sekai Tembo, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Zimbabwe
ü  Kenya’s CSA successfully advocated for revision of National Health Policy to include a stronger nutrition component.
ü  In Nepal, the CSA helped secure a directive that local level governments must include a nutrition program in their work plans.
ü  Budget tracking and advocacy efforts at decentralised level have shown increased nutrition investments by local authorities in Nigeria and Tanzania
Sustainability threatened by funding insecurity
Securing funding beyond 2016 is crucial for CSAs, with the SUN Multi Partner Trust Fund now coming to an end. Most CSAs are supported by their members through significant financial and in kind contributions and are seeking national funding as a priority.  Funding is also needed for the SUN Civil Society Network - the fastest growing network in the SUN movement with a combined membership of over 2,500 local, national and international organisations. SUN CSN is an accelerator– a fast-start mechanism enabling new national CSAs to quickly build capacity, set up appropriate governance and systems, and learn about effective advocacy from their well-established peers.
The recent independent evaluation of SUN’s Multi Partner Trust Fund praised the role of civil society in taking the SUN Movement into places it otherwise wouldn’t reach.
Donors want to see the best value for their investment, improved integration and innovation to ensure at scaled impactful and sustainable efforts.
We need more money for nutrition but more important a better use of existing moneys as highlighted by the recent World Bank estimates. However we also need to earmark some of these moneys to ensure civil society keeps doing what no one else can. We need existing and new donors investing but we also need to think of innovative and sustainable funding models, diversifying our funding sources and ensuring we are as effective with existing resources as possible.
Momentum is critical in any attempt to bring about a significant, lasting change. The momentum created by the SUN Civil Society Network over the last three years is significant – but is now in danger of being lost.
As Tom Arnold, Interim coordinator for the SUN Movement puts it: “Civil society has an absolutely pivotal role to play in the next phase of SUN. In order to build on investments to date and sustain its work, civil society needs funding to ensure that joint efforts are long-lasting and to ensure progress is accelerated.”