The SUN Movement Pooled Fund and the COVID-19 crisis
While the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are still unfolding, communities are already facing the effects that go far beyond the virus’s initial danger. The COVID-19 pandemic has become a crisis that threatens the food security and nutrition of millions of people around the world. This also affects the SUN Movement Pooled Fund beneficiaries and their recent gains achieved by Civil Society Alliances (CSAs) as national priorities shift away from nutrition.
During these challenging times, the SUN Movement Pooled Fund has been working in close collaboration with its grantees. Under the stewardship of the Consultative Group, the SUN Movement Pooled Fund acted quickly to support CSAs to adapt and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SUN Movement Pooled Fund Team was able to revise activities and budgets to enable a reprioritization of activities around COVID-19 in more than 21 countries – this includes contract extensions for all who requested one. This flexibility enabled the inclusion of multisectoral nutrition in COVID-19 responses in several countries as CSA priorities shifted rapidly.
The Pooled Fund grant beneficiary in Nigeria, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition In Nigeria, has taken the initiative to develop a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder nutrition response plan for COVID-19. The plan involves all stakeholders including government, UN agencies, SUN Business Network partners, representatives from donor agencies and non-governmental organizations. The participants identified immediate, medium-term, and long-term plans to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the nutrition interventions. As all partners join forces to take up their roles in the response, the Civil Society Alliance in Nigeria plays a vital role in assessing the multi-level impacts of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security as part of its mitigation plan.
In Madagascar, the SUN Movement Pooled Fund, in partnership with World Food Programme and UNICEF, continues to support the national Civil Society Alliance to contribute and monitor the National Action Plan for Nutrition. So far, the CSA has successfully included a study on the impact of COVID-19 on nutrition in three regions featured in the national plan. This activity is in addition to COVID-19 messaging and supplemental specialized training to the CSA’s new and expanding Executive Committee. These efforts ensure that the study will be guided by a well-trained group of civil society leaders and a clear analysis of the pandemic’s effects on national nutrition planning.
In Nepal, the SUN Movement Pooled Fund is shaping a nutrition sensitive Covid-19 response through its support to the national CSA hosted by SAIFRN. Additionally, the CSA is using its top-up funding received from the Pooled Fund to distribute relief packages (containing soap, masks and nutrition supplements) and run awareness raising activities for Mother-Support Groups from 4 municipalities where no support has been provided to these target groups yet. The distribution will be coupled with COVID-19 and nutrition related messages.
Additionally, the SUN Movement Pooled Fund beneficiaries have also stepped in to provide direct support to their communities.
In Guatemala, the Fundacion de la Caficultura (FUNCAFE)strengthened the Momostenango Totonicapán Health System by providing prevention and disinfection supplies. While receiving the masks, gloves, and several liters of disinfectants, the mayor of Momostenango, Senior Santiago Vincente thanked FUNCAFE for its contribution to the municipality and emphasized that through wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing, containing COVID-19 is in everyone’s hands.
In light of the potential long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pooled Fund team launched small grants aimed to support the heavy-lifting for CSAs regarding the inclusion of nutrition in COVID-19 efforts, both at national and subnational levels. With the objective to support selected national CSAs in bridging the COVID-19 crisis and (re) build a “fit-for-purpose” civil society and national ecosystem, the grants will ensure CSAs are well positioned to contribute to joint implementation of National Nutrition Plans in the next phase of the SUN Movement.
The Civil Society Alliance in Zambia, in collaboration with other SUN Networks, used SUN Movement Pooled Funds to lobby the government and to advocate for a system-wide approach to the pandemic that goes well beyond the health sector. Their advocacy has included support to the food system to reduce breakages in food supply for vulnerable populations and to strengthen social safety nets to help these populations access food and other essential services in the active and recovery phases of the pandemic.
These examples are just a small snapshot into the ongoing efforts of the SUN Movement Pooled Fund to keep nutrition on the political agenda in these challenging times. No matter the challenge, the Pooled Fund remains committed to support its partners throughout the world in their unifying mission of ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030.