Road to Rio Summit, Nutrition for Growth

22nd March 2016
The Nutrition for Growth Summit will take place on August 4 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the day before the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Titus Mung’ou, Clementina Ngina and Manaan Mumma, from Kenya’s Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA), write for Eldis on the commitments they hope Kenya will make on this occasion.

On 8th June 2013, world leaders including SUN countries came together at the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) event in London to sign a global compact that will prevent at least 20 million children from being stunted and save at least 1.7 million lives by 2020. This was endorsed by 90 stakeholders, including development partners, businesses, scientific and civil society groups. An ambitious set of commitments to improve nutrition were made including a $4.15 billion financial pledge.

Kenya is one of the countries that did not participate or make a commitment during the Nutrition for Growth summit in 2013. This was unfortunate given the level of malnutrition in the country - stunting was at 35%; Wasting 7% and underweight 16%.

Market Kenya

Photo: USAID Kenya  (CC BY-NC 2.0 )

However, all is not lost as the second Nutrition for Growth (N4G2) summit to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2016 provides another good opportunity for Kenya to make its contribution in transforming its nutrition landscape.

From late last year, Kenya’s Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) embarked on advocacy with other SUN networks to ensure the country’s participation in the Rio Summit. The network presented a proposal to Nutrition Venture Fund seeking funds to develop and implement advocacy plans to secure financial and/or policy commitments at N4G2 summit.

In its proposal, the SUN CSA indicated that if Kenya does not participate in N4G 2016, it would be business as usual and there will be no commitments to sustain or scale up the gains the country has made in nutrition. In N4G 2013 Kenya missed out on making any commitments, more specifically on national leadership to strengthen and develop high quality, validated, costed national nutrition plans and mobilize domestic resources for them, and resource allocation for nutrition which remain a major challenge in tackling malnutrition issues.

Country Nutrition Status
According to the Global Nutrition Report 2015, Kenya is the only country on course to achieve all five WHA under-nutrition targets by 2025. Despite the progress, Kenya is among the countries with the highest burden of undernutrition and the needs are massive if the country is to achieve the WHA under-nutrition targets.

Unfortunately, the government’s commitment and funding to nutrition is inadequate. The health sector remains under-funded, with the current budget standing at 4.9% against 15% as set by African states under the Abuja Declaration of 2003. Further, there are no specific budget lines for nutrition in the national and county governments’ annual budgets, leaving nutrition to depend largely on donor support.

Kenya’s Road to Rio Summit
There has been commendable progress in nutrition issues since Kenya joined the SUN Movement in November 2012. The formation of various SUN networks has contributed to increased awareness and commitment for nutrition support. SUN CSA has mobilised more than 70 CSOs to join SUN Movement. The Ministry of Health’s Nutrition and Dietetics Unit is the SUN Focal Point and is coordinating the implementation of various nutrition interventions.

In collaboration with various SUN Movement networks in Kenya, SUN CSA is lobbying the government and development partners to increase resources to nutrition.

On the Road to the Rio Summit, SUN CSA seeks to have the Government of Kenya’s commitment in the following areas: development of policies that will prioritise nutrition as a multi-sectoral development agenda, continued political leadership on nutrition issues and accountability to nutrition at various levels.

SUN CSA aims to lobby to government to make commitments to increase resources to nutrition specifically to increase health and nutrition budgets at national and county levels.

Despite not being among the countries that secured the Nutrition Venture Fund, Kenya’s SUN CSA will be advancing the following objectives until August 2016:

  • Development and adaption of nutrition targets at national level and specific counties (to be shared in Rio)
  • Government representation in August 2016 NG42 Rio Summit and presentation of Kenya’s plan and targets
  • Raise the profile of nutrition and August 2016 NG42 Rio Summit in Kenya
  • Establishment of SUN Multi-Stakeholder Platform for improved coordination of nutrition, thus accelerating implementation of the nutrition action plans.