BY Lorraine Anyango
In the month of March 2022 Kisumu county executive members from three departments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to carry out a multi-Sectoral Nutrition approach.
The idea was to streamline matters of nutrition in all departments and reduce stunting, wasting, underweight cases, micro nutrient deficiencies, overweight, and obesity among the residents of Kisumu County.
This agenda called for commitment from the Health and Sanitation department, Education as well as Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries departments.
The good news is, with the support from Advancing Nutrition which is implementing the project enabled by USAID, lots of gains continue to be registered since the signing of the MOU.
The gains include an increased budget allocation on nutrition in the three different sectors as a result of a project-based budgeting sensitization workshop that equipped technical officers with skills to advocate for the increase.
A checklist for reporting nutrition matters in Kisumu County was also developed, and nutrition champions from the sub counties as well as from the civil society have been trained to carry out their mandate
What still needs to be done?
More is yet to be done under this collaboration, in a meeting to take stock of the progress of the Nutrition Multi sectoral approach, the leaders agreed on the importance of exchange learning to better the outcomes of the project.
Chief of Party, USAID, Save The Children Dr. Peter Milo said they would support exchange programs between Kisumu and other cities for bench-marking purposes.
“There is goodwill here, there is also evidence of ownership of the project in Kisumu, and exchange visits will bring out areas of improvement and enhancement of the coordination of MSN.
Dr. Milo committed that Advance nutrition will support Kisumu country to come up with a policy to enshrine the multi-sectoral approach to handling nutrition adding that it’s important to create an adequate pool to champion issues of nutrition.
“As malnutrition grows, performance in schools goes down, malnutrition harms the brain it leads to under performance, brain retardation, its irreversible in the first 1000 days of a child.” Dr. Milo said while emphasizing the importance of securing the infancy stages with proper nutrition.
“We will have conversations on how the multi-sectoral nutrition initiative can work sustainably even after Advance nutrition finishes their project.” He added.
Dr. Milo underscored the fact that the biggest impact of the multi-sectoral approach is what people will practice noting that educators are an assessment of their valuation.
Dr. Milo was accompanied by Dr. Altrira Mukuna from Save the children Washington Dc, who emphasize the importance of inclusion, and ensuring that those living with disabilities should be part of the process.
She said that she was keen to see that different interest groups get represented in the nutrition agenda and supported views by some of the leaders to have aggregated as reports on nutrition are disseminated.
The CEC, Agriculture fisheries, and livestock Mr. Gilchrist Okuom said that nutrition security is a critical agenda adding that it’s important to ensure that households have both income and food security and can deal with micro nutrient insecurity.
Dr. Greggory Ganda emphasized the importance of solving family issues as a unit noting that the compounded approach will help individual households adding that data from the same will inform decisions.
Dr. Paul Omanga, Chief officer, of Agriculture and fisheries said that the champions should be engaged at grassroots levels and that all the wards in Kisumu should have a nutrition champion adding that they should increase the spread wide the micro gardens technology.
He added that the coordination of the MSN should be enacted for continuation and that the nutrition steering committee be funded by the government.
The MSN secretariat is also targeting to increase private sector engagement in the multi-sectoral nutrition approach.
The Multisectoral nutrition leadership was held to jointly review and discuss implementation progress for the USAID Advancing Nutrition project for the financial year 2022 and co-created work plan and priories for 2023.