By Lorraine Anyango
Departments with the nutritional mandate are pushing for increased budget allocation on nutrition with a needle eye accuracy in Kisumu County.
This zeal has seen key actors trained on budgeting with an emphasis on comprehensive costing of nutrition interventions and budgeting for the same.
Through a multi sectoral approach, the actors dissected and appreciated budgeting and planning within government as they undertook capacity building on program-based budgeting (PBB).
The nutritional multi sectoral approach is being implemented through a project dubbed ‘Advancing Nutrition’, it’s a global Flag ship USAID supported program, which is being implemented by ‘Save The Children International ’ in Kenya. The program is being carried out in Kisumu, Kakamega and Kitui counties.
The project has brought together actors drawn from the civil society as well as government officers from the health, Agriculture, Education and Social protection departments in the counties.
Civil organization will ensure that there is a voice coming from the community, they are now armed with budgetary dates and steps to be able to influence and advocate the budget for nutrition particularly during the budget participation process.
The actors were sensitized on joint budget advocacy and they also build skills on developing action plans to influence budgets across budget cycles.
“We want the nutrition stake holders to be aware of the living budget cycle of the National and County governments so that they can fully participate in the budget making process as well as articulate issues of nutritional importance in those budgets.” Dr Kennedy Otieno said.
“In the end we expect that nutrition will be given the needed lime light in the budget then the concerned departments can account for what was given.” He added.
“Most stake holders dint know how budgeting is done, and the important dates in the budgeting process, this training will equip them with dates when they can participate, put their petitions and submissions in the budget making process.” Dr Otieno added.
In the past, nutrition planning and budgeting was being implemented vertically, hence various sectors lacked opportunities to enrich nutrition interventions so that they are targeted and informed by evidence on performance on outcomes.
Budgeting by different departments on nutrition was also done without prior conversations around policy direction that ensures that planning is joined up, to advance high impact interventions implemented by specific sectors.
The training sought to address nutrition gaps and needs within the community. “For many years, we dint have a sub program for nutrition, to ensure that resources are allocated and dedicated to support nutrition in the department of health in Kisumu County.” Mrs Joyce Nyaboga, USAID Advancing Nutrition, Capacity Strengthening Advisor said.
“In the next financial year, we expect a budget of at least two million within the health sector dedicated towards nutrition, we hope the other departments will also set aside resources towards nutrition interventions.” Mrs Rael Mwando, Nutrition services coordinator, Kisumu County.
The major outcomes of this training will see to it that some of the nutritional interventions enlisted in the county nutrition action plan, such as strengthening maternal, infant and young child nutrition by setting up breast feeding spaces for mothers in the market places, so that the children get the best start in life becomes a reality.
“We are also pushing for policies to be put in place to guide on nutrition interventions, this policy will help defend the nutrition budget.” Pastor Thadius Ouko, budget officer in the department of Agriculture, livestock and Irrigation added.
He added that the vision and mission of the department of Agriculture outlines the mandate of having a food secure county whose food is safe and nutritious as well to impact quality living. “We are modernizing agriculture to produce nutritious food”. He added.
Monicah Fedha , Seme sub county agricultural officer, said that a nutrition specific budget will enable them train mothers at household levels to grow vegetables , and ensure that the have capacity to get enough of green leafy vegetables and fruits.
Through Advancing nutrition, departments have now prioritized nutrition interventions, while health department plans to set up breast feeding spaces, Education is relooking into the school feeding programs while Agriculture, fisheries and livestock department will work closely to ensure that there even fish ponds in schools and the harvest will go towards feeding the children.
According to the demographics health survey 2014, the Kisumu County nutrition situation indicates that 18 % of children below 5 years are stunted, another 6 % are obese, and 7% are underweight.
80 % of children under 5 years in Kisumu East and Central are not able to access a iron rich diet, while 39.3 % of women attending clinics have low HB.
“We are grappling with a triple burden of malnutrition, as health alone we cannot carry this burden alone as the health department , we are now working with other departments to avert this trend .” Mrs Mwando added.