Developing strategies to end hunger
 

Civil Society Raises Its Voice for Global Nutrition

On June 11 -- the day after Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition, organized by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide -- the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Network held its inaugural meeting. Having heard from government officials, nutrition experts, and fellow SUN country representatives about how sustained political commitments can lead to improved nutrition outcomes, civil society representatives gathered to share best practices and discuss individual country challenges to scaling up nutrition programs and policies. 

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By identifying and agreeing on key priorities for action, such as advocacy, the 66 representatives were able to begin developing effective strategies to help each other build capacity and maximize available resources in the fight against malnutrition. The Civil Society Network, like the rest of SUN, focuses on nutrition for pregnant women and children in the 1,000-day “window” between pregnancy and age 2. The civil society representatives came from organizations ranging from women’s rights groups and research entities to humanitarian aid agencies and trade unions.

This meeting addressed the critical need for cooperation and collaboration in efforts to truly improve nutrition by scaling up actions that are now available and known to be effective. With the active encouragement and participation of Bread for the World and many other international nutrition stakeholders, the Civil Society Network will advance SUN’s mission by coordinating efforts with national governments, donors, and UN agencies to maximize the impact of programs and encourage best nutrition practices. The network’s efforts are particularly important now, with about 1,000 days remaining before the December 2015 deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The importance of organizing Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for more effective communication and cooperation must not be overlooked. The Civil Society Network facilitates these collaboration efforts across countries. For example, recently in Zambia, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Nepal, CSO alliances worked with other SUN entities in their countries to organize roundtable discussions, public rallies, and other events aimed at bringing attention to hunger and malnutrition and calling on government officials to elevate these issues to the top of the national agenda.

At this inaugural meeting of the SUN Civil Society Network, CSOs affirmed their commitment to come together to align policies, speak with one voice, and work together to support, encourage, and mobilize the robust action and resources necessary to scale up nutrition.

Now that the SUN Civil Society Network is officially organized and its members have had some opportunities to talk with nutrition advocates from other countries, the network can begin to assist countries in developing individual plans to improve maternal and child nutrition.  When countries in the network begin to interact with development assistance organizations working on nutrition programs, providing information based on their own experiences, it will be a great example of “country-led development.”

Katy Merckel

 

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