Reinforcing the collective mindset for nutrition in Liberia
Malnutrition remains an issue of critical concern in Liberia, as nearly one-third of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting or low height-for-age) and almost half a million (69 per cent) are anaemic (USAID, 2018). On February 2019, Liberia held a Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and undernutrition (REACH) Stakeholders Meeting in its capital city Monrovia, which brought together a diverse set of high-level actors from the government, United Nations, civil society and the Embassy of Ireland. Among the participants were the SUN Government Focal Point, Assistant Ministers and Directors from four different line ministries (Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, Education and Health), the UN Resident Coordinator, Country Representatives of UN agencies active in the UN Network (UNN), the UNN-REACH Facilitator, a representative from the UNN-REACH Secretariat and the Chairman of Liberia’s Civil Society Alliance.
The event was timely. Not only did it build on the momentum from the recent official endorsement of the SUN Government Focal Point, it also coincided with the early stages of UNN-REACH activity initiated in December 2018. The event enabled the participants to collectively define the UNN-REACH work plan to support the transformational change required for nutrition scale up in Liberia. Participants left the event with a deeper understanding of the SUN Movement and the concrete actions that UNN-REACH will take, thanks to generous funding from Irish Aid, to build the capacity of nutrition coordination mechanisms and operationalize a multi-sectoral approach to nutrition.
There are already positive signs. The wide and high-level attendance at the event indicates growing political commitment to nutrition as well as increased stakeholder engagement in the nutrition space. Participants now have a common understanding of the current nutrition situation in the country upon which to ground future collective actions.