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Delivering technical assistance to SUN Countries

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Since the beginning of the SUN Movement, SUN Countries have emphasized the core capabilities which are critical for effective multi-sectoral action. As they strive for progress, gaps in capacity emerge which act as road blocks for implementing and scaling up effective nutrition actions. SUN Countries turn to the SUN Movement Secretariat (SMS) to request technical assistance on specific topics.

In many countries, solutions to capacity needs are addressed by stakeholders in the country such as via UN agencies, civil society, donors, but in others, the number of partners able to assist is limited or there might be options for in-country support but a lack of alignment with identified priorities.

In June 2015, a mapping of service providers active in SUN Countries was undertaken by an external consultant and revealed that there is a high concentration of service providers in a small number of SUN Countries and either no or limited support in the majority of SUN Countries. In some of these cases, SUN Government Focal Points had reached out to the SMS to express their needs. In response to this, the SMS has now developed the Capacity to Deliver (C2D) framework as a systematic approach to deliver technical assistance within the SUN Movement.

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About the Capacity to Deliver (C2D) framework

The C2D framework is an approach to ensure that the technical assistance delivered through the SUN Movement adds value at the country level. Providers of technical assistance, SUN Countries and the SUN Movement Secretariat all abide by the following principles. The technical assistance will:

  • be government-led, accessible to all countries, and provided in a relevant, timely and quality manner
  • be transparent and will not jeopardize, duplicate or overlap work already existing in countries
  • be consultative of all relevant stakeholders from various sectors in countries or with members of the SUN Multi-stakeholder Platform (MSP)
  • build capacity and strengthen experience and expertise to ensure long term sustainability
  • be assessed for its cost and effectiveness and its contribution to advancing the four strategic objectives of the SUN Movement

The C2D framework is also a tool. To deliver, while fostering collaboration, transparency and learning among technical assistance providers, the SMS has developed a web-based tool that records, tracks and stores all documentation (terms of reference of support offered, deliverables) pertaining to the technical assistance delivered within the C2D framework. The tool is accessible to the partners of the SMS involved in the delivery of technical assistance.  Access can be granted upon request, by contacting the SMS.

The C2D framework provides an overview of only those requests for technical assistance from SUN Countries that are shared with the SMS. In no way should this be seen as a comprehensive appreciation of all support provided to SUN Countries by partners of the SUN Movement. In this way, C2D is envisaged as a last resort mechanism, acknowledging that most of the gaps are addressed at country level.

Building on the needs identified by SUN Countries, the SUN Movement Strategy and Roadmap (2016-2020) identifies three capabilities that are to be strengthened if SUN Countries are to effectively scale up nutrition and the C2D framework is aligned with this vision to focus on:

  • Continuously improving country planning and implementation to end malnutrition
  • Mobilising, advocating and communicating for impact
  • Strengthening the capacity for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration at all levels
Providers of Technical Expertise in the C2D framework

Technical Assistance for Nutrition 

The Technical Assistance for Nutrition (TAN) programme set up in 2015 by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), is intended to help strengthen the capacity of all SUN Countries to deliver policies and programmes which reduce undernutrition. In order to achieve these, the TAN programme aims to:

  • Coordinated provision of technical assistance that helps national SUN focal points to overcome gaps in capacity in design and delivery of multi-sectoral national nutrition plans;
  • Improved learning and accountability across the SUN movement that influences decision making by the SUN movement’s leadership, networks and national governments;
  • Sustained national and international leadership that drives prioritisation of and investment in nutrition in the first 1000 days.

The TAN programme regroups three key partners (Nutrition International -previously Micronutrient Initiative-; the Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN); and the Maximising the Quality of Scaling Up Nutrition Plus (MQSUN+) consortium. The latter associates the Aga Khan University (AKU), Development Initiatives (DI), Health Partners International (HPI); NutritionWorks (NW) under the leadership of PATH and uses standardized operating procedures adapted from the previous MQSUN project that ran between 2012-2016.

Other partners

Outside of the formalized agreements between providers detailed above, other partners are involved in delivering technical assistance to SUN Countries such as Alive and Thrive, who specialize in providing behavior change communication support to a number of SUN Countries and two Ethics Advisers engaged by the SMS to provide support to countries in developing approaches to prevent and manage conflict of interest.

If you would like to learn more about providers of technical assistance within the C2D framework or if you want to join the pool of experts, please contact the SMS.

The process of delivering technical assistance through the C2D framework

The SMS plays a role of a tracker and a match-maker – registering and compiling requests while ensuring they are matched with specific support. It also facilitates the relation between the countries and the providers of technical assistance. The process followed by the SMS are described in the six following steps:

  1. SUN Government Focal Points raise their need for technical assistance to the SUN Movement Secretariat during SUN Country Network Meetings and face to face meetings and through bilateral calls and written communication
  2. The country liaison team of the SMS works with SUN Government Focal Points and in-country stakeholders to understand the context and ensure compliance with the C2D framework principles of technical assistance
  3. Confirmation is received with a written request from a SUN Government Focal Point which enables the SMS to proceed to the identification of providers
  4. Matched providers and countries stakeholders agree on the scope, objectives and content of the technical assistance, which are captured in Terms of References
  5. Technical assistance is delivered through remote work and/or in-country consultations. Support is focused on reviewing working tools e.g. Declaration of Interest templates.
  6. The technical assistance provided is evaluated and all relevant material and communications are stored on the web-based C2D tool.

What has been achieved so far?

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Since 2013, when requests for technical assistance started to be recorded by the SMS, and as of August 2017, 102 requests for technical assistance have been received from SUN Countries, equaling 20 requests a year on average.

The requests for technical assistance have mainly dealt with planning and implementation to end malnutrition (79%), Mobilising, advocating and communicating for impact (16%) and strengthening the capacity for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration at all levels (5%).

Requests can be identified as:

  • “Official” requests are where a provider(s) are still being sought
  • “Launched” requests are being addressed by an identified technical assistance provider as per agreed Terms of Reference
  • “Completed” requests have been resolved through the successful delivery of technical assistance
  • “Closed” requests have been withdrawn for various reasons (change of government, un-readiness or a solution in country was found)

Status of requests

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The status of the total number of requests varies across each thematic area as detailed below:

  • Out of the 81 requests received for technical assistance in support of planning and implementation, 65% have been “completed”, 15% were “closed”, 16% have “launched” and 2% are “official”.
  • Out of the 16 requests received for technical assistance delivered in mobilising, advocating and communicating for impact, 31% have been “completed, 38% were “closed”, 12% have “launched” and 19% are “official”.
  • Out of the 5 requests received for technical assistance delivered in strengthening the capacity for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration at all levels, 20% have been “completed” and 80% have “launched”.

Examples of technical assistance in mobilising, advocating and communicating for impact

Alive & Thrive in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, Alive & Thrive (A&T) shares its programmatic framework with other countries through the SUN Movement support system. Since 2014, A&T has been providing technical support to SUN Movement countries in Southeast Asia to enhance local capacity to deliver social and behaviour change programs at scale. To read a brief outlining support and key deliverables to date, click here

Weber Shandwick and M&C Saatchi

In 2015, the Public Relations agencies Weber Shandwick and M&C Saatchi, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), commenced work with the nutrition community on developing a new narrative for nutrition. As part of this work, a toolkit of resources has been made available to all SUN Countries and targeted support was provided to Nigeria, Bangladesh and Tanzania. The materials can be accessed here and a full report can be downloaded here.

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