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Kenya launches nutrition policies to reduce malnutrition

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

Kenya has made a great milestone by launching key documents that will support the scaling up of nutrition interventions to improved health, food security, nutrition and quality of life, as well as boost immunity against diseases like COVID-19.

The documents were launched during the 3rd National Nutrition Symposium which was a mix of virtual and physical participation graced by high level government officials drawn from the national and the county/sub-national level. Also in attendance were nutrition champions from the national assembly and county first ladies association. The 3rd National Nutrition Symposium was organized by the Division of Nutrition and Dietetics under the ministry of Health with technical and financial support from SUN CSA members (Nutrition International, Amref, Action Against Hunger, Concern worldwide, Feed the Children, Gain, Helen Keller International, KANCO, Food for the Hungry, Kenya Red Cross, World Vision) the UN (UNICEF and World Food Program). At the national level the SUN CSA members and the UN provided technical leadership in various technical committees responsible for planning of the symposium while at the county level the SUN CSA members led the process of mobilizing stakeholders and capacitated them with finances to participate at the nutrition symposium virtually.

The high level government officials were led by Cabinet secretary of the ministry of health represented by the chief administrative secretary, the other officials who joined the meeting were Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs, principal secretary in the ministry of Agriculture, the chief administrative secretary in the ministry of Agriculture, the principal secretary in the national treasury and directors from all line ministries.

During the nutrition symposium the Kenya Nutrition Action Plan and other documents that will operationalize the action plan were launched. Among documents launched were;

  • Implementation framework for securing a breastfeeding friendly environment at workplaces (2020-2024):  This provides a national roadmap for coordinated implementation and monitoring of interventions to support breastfeeding in the workplaces both in the public and private sectors.
  • The Kenya Agri-Nutrition Strategy (2020 to 2024): This focuses on securing access to safe, diverse and nutritious food, by strengthening the national food chain and community production.
  • The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network Kenya Strategy (2019 to 2023). This recognizes the role of the private sector in making safe and nutritious food available and affordable. The strategy will support in mobilizing the private sector working in food systems to engage in a structured format in reducing malnutrition burden in the country.
  • The Kenya Nutrition Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (2018 to 2022). This ensures Government and partners can monitor the progress and success of the KNAP.
  • National Nutrition Fact Sheet, Programmatic Guidelines and Policies on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. These explain a range of supportive measures authorities and communities can take, from breastfeeding-friendly workplaces to vitamin A supplementation.

The Cabinet secretary for health, recognized the importance of having a multi-sectoral approach malnutrition, “Good nutrition at every stage of life is part of the foundation of a prosperous society,” Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mutahi Kagwe said. “For the first time, five Ministries and the Council of Governors are working hand in hand with a range of partners on a Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan to stamp out malnutrition in Kenya once and for all.”

Speakers highlighted evidence from the recently released Kenya Cost of Hunger Study (2019) which shows huge economic losses: the country lost 6.9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product due to undernutrition in one year (2014). The economic impact associated with underweight and stunted children is quite significant with far reaching effects on health, education and productivity. This huge loss implies that there is need for concerted multi-sectoral efforts to address undernutrition.

When we talk about a prosperous nation, we have to talk about investing in nurturing human capital. This starts with children. Only if a child is well nourished can he or she develop and grow well, stay healthy, learn well and be able to reach his or her full potential,” said UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman. “Good nutrition also boosts immunity, giving both children and adults better protection against diseases, including COVID-19.”

Since the implementation of the proposed interventions will take place at the County (sub-national) level, SUN CSA through its membership are currently supporting the County/ sub-national level to develop and launch costed nutrition action plans and support them in engaging with the policy makers and county executives towards financing the costed nutrition action plans. The SUN CSA members are also supporting in monitoring the implementation of these plans.

“Agriculture plays a critical role in nutrition,” Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Peter Munya said. “We are doing everything within our power to improve Kenya’s food production and access, so that every child, adult and elderly person can be well-fed and healthy. As part of these efforts, we have developed the Agri-Nutrition Strategy in collaboration with partners.”

Speaking at the same event, the SUN CSA board and NI country director in Kenya Ms Martha Nyagaya said “we make a difference because nutrition is the difference. It is the difference between

giving birth to a child and giving that child life, taking a child to school and enabling them to learn, it is the difference between fighting a disease and fighting it” she also added “Harnessing the power and abilities of various stakeholders from different sectors is one of the most strategic ways we can scale our interventions and solve the complex challenge of malnutrition.”

“Tackling malnutrition is a team effort – requiring business leaders to work in partnership with the Government, civil society and consumers to make sure that safe, nutritious food is available and affordable to everyone,” Leah Kaguara, GAIN Country Director and Convener of the SUN Business Network, said.

SUN CSA members, SBN members and the UN in Kenya work collaboratively to tackle malnutrition by working with communities and health workers, supporting enhancement of food systems for improved diets, through supporting the national and county Government on policies and program intervention.

“To translate these policies into results at the human level we need to invest and see sufficient budgets allocated and used well for the actions in the national and the county-level plans,” UNICEF’s Maniza Zaman said. “UNICEF, with the UN family, will continue to work in partnership with the Government and others to boost nutrition and prosperity across Kenya.”

Hon, Zuleikha Hassan, a nutrition champion and the focal person in the national assembly on issues nutrition committed to rally her colleagues to support nutrition budget allocation and monitor expenditure of the resources allocated.

Way forward

  • SUN CSA has 14 County chapters and has initiated the process of establishing and re-activating the SUN CSA county chapters that will facilitate mobilization of stakeholders at local level.
  • The SUN CSA and the UN members are currently supporting the Counties to develop County specific nutrition action plans. 18 county nutrition action plans developed and launched, with 16 other nutrition action plans at various stages of development.
  • The SUN CSA is supporting its members and the counties to hold nutrition financing round table discussions to get commitments and resources to fully implement the nutrition action plans. The process has seen over USD 5 million in financial and human resource commitment secured from SUN CSA members and County governments.
  • The SUN CSA will engage with stakeholders at national and county level to monitor implementation and achievement of various nutrition action plans.

 

• Kenya Nutrition Action Plan 2018-2022  – Download

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