Joining forces for better nutrition in Cambodia
A SUN Movement Pooled Fund story
as told by the SUN-CSA Cambodia
Nutrition programming and organizations were once scattered and uncoordinated, but we as the SUN Civil Society Alliance (CSA) and with the support of the SUN Movement Pooled Fund, have been able to bring together civil society organizations to join forces with important nutrition partners and work collaboratively to plan and strive towards achieving the results set out in Cambodia’s national strategy . In Cambodia, we are in a prime position as the SUN CSA to represent the greater civil society and leverage the combined influence to increase multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral commitments. Together, we are building capacities to ensure effective implementation of the National Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition (NSFSN) 2019-2023.In this blog, we’ll tell you how we worked during COVID-19, continuing our efforts to improve nutrition and educate communities using online tools and kept up engagement with partners on key policies.
How the SUN Movement Pooled Fund has supported our efforts
Since April 2019, the SUN CSA is a recipient of the SUN Movement Pooled Fund. This has allowed Helen Keller International (HKI), in their role of Acting Chair of the SUN CSA, to build on the gains that have already been accomplished. Institutionalizing and disseminating SUN CSA Cambodia’s efforts through advocacy, capacity building, sharing learning, and engaging with the national, regional and global nutrition communities.
“The support from the Pooled Fund is very critical and makes it possible to bring civil society organizations and other stakeholders together to address all forms of malnutrition in Cambodia. We have learnt the importance of having a united voice for a stronger impact from the many successful initiatives undertaken collectively by SUN CSA Cambodia”
Mr. Hou Kroeun, Deputy Country Director of HKI and Acting Chair of SUN CSA Cambodia
So far, the Cambodia SUN Movement Pooled Fund project has achieved several milestones. We have now been able to increase our participation and helped strengthen multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral platforms (MSPs) and be more engaged and influence the development and implementation of the national strategy for food security and nutrition. Importantly, it has helped to bring together members to exchange experiences, share lessons learned and best practices on nutrition. This has made its way to the sub-national level, with SUN CSA supporting the establishment of sub-national multi-sectoral nutrition platforms. Membership has grown, more civil society organizations are aware of national policies, we have joined with other stakeholder (such as youth groups, private sector partners, etc.) and have issued joint statements when we see and support government’s progress and this has led to increase media attention on nutrition.
The Government has expressed much appreciation for nutrition stakeholders, including the SUN CSA Cambodia, for their efforts in contributing to the National Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition2019-2023. Particularly, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed his thanks in a meeting earlier this year.
Now it feels amazing to be a part of the SUN CSA which has gradually emerged as the largest platform working on nutrition in Cambodia!
What’s our history?
Before the SUN Movement Pooled Fund project, a relatively small number of actors performed the majority of nutrition-related programming and policy engagement in Cambodia. There was often confusion about the roles of each actor, sector and ministry. With significant overlap across activities, nutrition was not prioritized as much as other areas of development, such as economics.
While coordination structures were in place and active at the national level, there were no consistent multi-sectoral platforms or mechanisms for coordination around nutrition at the sub-national level. Hence, it was quite challenging to make the “buy-in” possible at the national and sub-national levels to create sub-national multi-stakeholder platforms.
There were issues mobilizing funds when we first applied for the SUN Movement Pooled Fund grant. Since the grant was received, we have progressed and achieved significant results and we are now able to mobilize more funds from external sources. Furthermore, attaining full engagement and contribution of all members for the cause of SUN CSA Cambodia has been challenging too due to their other priorities. The issue has been discussed at the Executive Committee meetings to find ways to improve the situation.
What we see now, is quite different and promising! Members of the SUN CSA Cambodia are consistently working hand in hand, reaching out for support and taking advantage of capacity building opportunities, expressing their commitment to the Alliance and gratitude for opportunities, and sharing information. The CSA members have also successfully partnered with other stakeholders in nutrition and other sectors to facilitate multi-sectoral collaborations for joint research and implementation of nutrition activities. The youth group is highly engaged, particularly the 10 Youth Nutrition Champions, and feedback from them this year, particularly on their outing to Kep Province, indicated how much they were learning and how much they valued the connections they made.
How have we worked through the COVID-19 pandemic:
Despite all these successful endeavors, COVID-19 was the biggest challenge in 2020. It had an impact on the workplan, causing delays and leading us towards finding alternatives for carrying out the planned activities. The ways of conducting work and communicating for the SUN CSA Cambodia with our members and other stakeholders now had to change.
However, instead of stopping, we continued to engage with our members and other stakeholders on certain activities through Telegram and Skype meetings. Recently, we were able to hold several face-to-face meetings, including meeting the Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Agricultural and Rural Development on responses on Food Security and Nutrition during COVID-19 as they carried out a rapid assessment on the impacts of COVID-19. In addition, we have a nutrition budget analysis meeting with stakeholders, NSFSN 2019-2020 meetings and a meeting with the governor and relevant departments to establish sub-national platforms for food security and nutrition.
What’s the latest?
We also generated huge participation from the public with our online quiz program, focusing on the importance of nutrition and especially on breastfeeding for infants. Over three weeks of online quizzes, more than 100,000 people have been reached through two Facebook Pages, with more than 3,000 people liking the quiz posts, almost 2,000 people joining the quizzes, and more than 1,000 people sharing the posts. Over 1,000 people answered questions related to breastfeeding correctly.
In addition, we have mobilized the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to issue a joint statement on issues related to Breast Milk Substitute (BMS) Code violations from four BMS companies. Another big achievement was to influence the Government to include a ‘Gender and Youth’ component in the NSFSN 2019-2023 to ensure that all priority actions reflect explicit objectives for gender responsiveness, gender equality and the engagement of youth.
What’s next for the SUN CSA Cambodia?
Moving forward, the SUN CSA Cambodia has a number of priority initiatives. These include the launch and roll-out of the National Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition 2019-2023. The SUN CSA will continue to support and scale up the work and impact of the existing national and sub-national MSPs, improving their functionality, and establishing new sub-national multi-stakeholder platforms. This will also involve training and building the capacity of sub-national governments. We will continue to engage with youth members as future leaders in nutrition and building their capacity as advocates within their own communities.
See more about SUN CSA Cambodia’s activities on our Facebook page.