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Advocacy, communication and media engagement in scaling up nutrition

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Titus Mung'ou SUN CSA Chair, KenyaTitus Mung’ou reflects on the 23rd Series of SUN Country Network Meetings where over 300 participants from 49 SUN Countries joined to share and learn from one another on sustaining political commitment to nutrition.

About the author: Titus Mung’ou is the ENN Knowledge Management Specialist for the East and Southern Africa region. He is a former Advocacy and Communications Manager for ACF Kenya where he was also the Chair of Kenya’s SUN Civil Society Alliance.

Sustained political commitment to scaling up nutrition is gaining momentum in a number of countries. There is significant development of advocacy, communication and social mobilisation strategies in SUN countries, as expressed by participants during the 23rd SUN Movement Country Network teleconference meeting held from 9-13 May 2016.

The meeting whose theme was ‘SUN Building and Sustaining Political Commitment for Nutrition Action’ brought together 345 participants from 49 Countries and the Indian State of Maharashtra. In total, SUN Movement Secretariat team coordinated 11 teleconferences in English, French and Spanish languages, and enabled participants to discuss among others, nutrition policies, prioritization of nutrition in government structures and development, working with nutrition champions and development of advocacy strategies.

An important document that is defining and shaping how nutrition actors deliver their messages to diverse audiences is the Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation Strategy. Some SUN countries have completed the strategy, while others are at an advanced stage in its development.

In Mozambique, the Advocacy and Communication Plan for implementation of the nutrition plan (PAMRDC) was adopted in 2014 and targets key decision-makers. In collaboration with other stakeholders, SUN civil society developed the country’s communications strategy and key messages on nutrition.

Kenya has completed its Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation Strategy whose aim is to elevate the status of nutrition and enhance engagement with different actors including politicians and media. The advocacy and communications toolkit is a guide to nutrition actors when implementing their programmes. At the same time, SUN networks engage with members of parliament and the media during key nutrition events. Training of journalists and nutrition champions has been undertaken by SUN networks in several counties.

Malawi’s comprehensive nutrition advocacy package targets the media, politicians, religious groups, Ministry of Finance, among others. In Nepal, the 1000 Days Campaign invites popular artists and media to participate in nutrition events. There are plans to develop nutrition messages in local languages in order to reach the grassroots population in Nepal.

Tanzania’s civil society, PANITA, has vast experience working with journalists to profile nutrition and children rights issues. A number of issues are highlighted by the media. In West Africa, Ghana’s SUN networks work with the media to demand accountability from politicians and other stakeholders on nutrition commitments.

The SUN Movement Secretariat team advised the country participants to work with the media to maintain momentum of multi-sectoral approach to scaling up nutrition.

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