Multistakeholder Somalia national nutrition learning event brings key experts together to advance national nutrition goals
The first Somalia National Nutrition Learning Event themed, “Strengthening sustainable nutrition resilience through proven multisectoral innovations, integration and adaptive responses in Somalia” is was opened today in Mogadishu and runs for three todays through to 17 March. The event is a platform for knowledge…
The first Somalia National Nutrition Learning Event themed, “Strengthening sustainable nutrition resilience through proven multisectoral innovations, integration and adaptive responses in Somalia” is was opened today in Mogadishu and runs for three todays through to 17 March.
The event is a platform for knowledge sharing and capitalizes on best practices drawn from multisectoral actors, while bringing unique perspectives that contribute to positive nutrition programming in Somalia and other fragile contexts.
It has brought together a multi-disciplinary group of nutrition sensitive and specific actors from across the country to present and exchange break-through ideas relating to nutrition, focusing attention on the recent outstanding achievements in the field of nutrition in Somalia.
Key themes that are being covered during the three-day learning event include: adaptive programming, innovation and research, capacity building, localization, and finance in programming.
This is being done through a rich mix of interactive learning sessions, presentations from experts, program leaders and practitioners, panel discussions, multisectoral actor commitments among others.
“This week, my attention was caught by a trending social media post of Somali Elders demonstrating while burying more than 5 children as a result of starvation driven by the ongoing drought. This morning, I was informed in the same village, they have buried five more children due to same crisis” – Mohamed Barre
In her keynote address, Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, recognized the strong role of the Government of Somalia in the UN Foods Systems Summit process, and the role of the SUN Focal Point for Somalia as national food systems convener.
Opening remarks included the following speech read by Mohammed Barre, Senior Economist and the lead of Economic Recovery Pillar at the Office of Prime Minister, Federal Government of Somalia — on behalf of the State Minister, His Excellency Abdihakim Ashkir, Office of the Prime Minister, Federal Government of Somalia.
Dear Excellencies, Honorable, ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to grace this occasion on behalf of the State Minister, Office of Prime Minister, Federal Government of Somalia. Allow me to thank Dr Farah Mohamed, SUN focal-person and the respective partners for making this noble event possible.
Today, we may hear presentations with relatable statistics. So, I want to start the conversation by talking about people and nutrition in Statistics. Let me give you Halima’s’ Story, a 32-year-old window, who has six children.
Halima has already buried 2 of her daughters and one of her sons to the “Monster” called Malnutrition. One of her surviving sons is severely stunted at just 2.6-foot inches at age 9 while her youngest child is fighting for his life in local community facility due to Severe Acute Malnutrition. For Halima, her household and most of the neighbors, getting one meal in two days is a blessing. The current ranging drought has made this worse, accessing life-saving interventions in her remote setting remains a luxury.
Halima and these bereaved Somalis’ form part of many others in similar predicament; many Somali households are now hungry as a result of ranging Covid-19 pandemic and worsening drought disaster across the country. Almost half of Somali Children who are under-five years faces a risk of acute malnutrition this year. Further urgent need for life-saving interventions including treatment is on the rise. Affording basic nutritious food is becoming “a dream luxury” for many.
Children, adolescent girls, Pregnant and lactating mothers a well as the elderly are paying the highest price year after year, with 1.4 million children, or nearly half of all those under the age of five, braving the pain of malnutrition and facing the harsh reality of starvation.
The Somalia government has made valuable steps though not enough to bring down the dragon of malnutrition in Somalia. Nutrition agenda has been substantively scaled-up as a national agenda with clear monitoring framework. A whole chapter is now dedicated to nutrition under the previous and current NDP. Overtime, success including establishment of a vibrant Nutrition Parliamentary Sub-Committee, establishment of high-level nutrition coordination mechanisms at national and sub-national levels among others has yielded commendable results including development of a comprehensive costed Somalia Multisectoral Nutrition Strategy (also known as Common Results Framework -CRF) to harmonize diverse nutrition actor efforts. There has been increased representation of Somalia in regional and international summits including 2021 Food Systems Summit, forums and learning events including recently concluded Nutrition for Growth Summit in which the country made bold commitments towards national nutrition targets.
Overtime, the Federal Government of Somalia has remained committed to provide transformative leadership in nutrition. Recent success of increasing domestic government budget for nutrition to about 3% and subsequent commitments in the 2021 Nutrition4Growth submit to raise the target to 5% is a sure commitment of our resolve in winning this battle. Through the Nutrition for Growth process, the government has also committed to reduce prevalence of stunting from 14 to 19% and wasting from 14 to 9% by 2025 which are commendable strides.
While the country has continued to cooperate with both regional and international actors including SUN Global, partners, private sector and CSOs in driving locally-adapted nutrition agenda as part of the global network, these renewed efforts require our joint efforts in planning, execution, periodic review and feeding of learnings into our priority interventions.
Why is this event important?
The truth is, in this country, due to impact of covid-19 pandemic, drought and other persistent disasters, malnutrition is hitting what we can qualify as “Crisis Levels” and we cannot afford to keep quite or remain silent doing nothing or just doing something! In addition to changing dynamics catalyzed by Covid-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact on health and nutrition sector, this calls for all of us to find innovative, adaptive and proven interventions to address the associated risks of malnutrition rather than adopt the traditional “a fit-it-all size” approach.
Somalia advocates for country-grown, country-led, locally-led and locally-owned solutions as part of its journey to self-reliance which suit the unique but complex health and nutrition programming context where majority are poor and vulnerable. These risks include but not limited to conflict, poverty and livelihood deprivation and lack of basic life-saving interventions. Deputy Minister, FMoH, His Excellency, Dr. Ahmed Maalim and the National SUN Focal Person, Dr. Farah Mohamed gracing the learning event, this is only possible though use of well-thought and crafted national learning events and forums which maims to bring multi-dimensional lessons, experiences and proven practices to the table. This learning event has the potential to be an historical event in re-writing the journey to eradicating malnutrition in Somalia.
It is a long-overdue initiative for multisectoral actors and partners to jointly show-case what works best in these changing and dynamic yet challenging contexts for others to learn and adapt in line with our National Nutrition Agenda.
Therefore, I laud this event for its uniqueness in providing much needed opportunity for sharing synthesized achievements, challenges and country-specific solutions across resilience lenses of adaptation, innovation, capacity building and financing. Am certain that the evidence will illuminate the spots which require our joint support in accelerating efforts and success in scaling-up nutrition agenda for the country. In addition, I recommend our collective reflection to consider sustainable, adaptive transformative solutions that address short-term to long-term priorities even as consider short-term needs which remains a gap in development nexus.
With this insight, am confident of our ability to jointly put our resources and efforts together to learn, innovate, adapt and transform our institutions and organizations to help the Somali citizens lead a healthy, productive lives.
It is POSSIBLE and YES, WE CAN SLAY THE MALNUTRITION DRAGON TOGETHER!