Sectoral Coordination for Change on Nutrition Practices – West Gojam Experience, Ethiopia
Sectoral Coordination for Change on Nutrition Practice West Gojam Experience
Ethiopia’s 2013-2015 National Nutrition Program (NNP) calls for a multi-sectoral approach to address malnutrition in the country. This approach was expected to be cascaded to even small localities and implemented at scale.
Bure Woreda of West Gojam Zone is one of the few localities that have positively responded to the call and begun implementing multi-sectoral approach. The Woreda established a multi-sectoral nutrition coordination body and nutrition technical committee. Being led by the health bureau, the coordination structure, which is believed to be addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition, has been cascaded to kebele level.
Multi-sectoral Coordination at Zallema Kebele
At Zallema kebele, the integration and coordination of health, agriculture and education offices as topmost NNP implementing government sectors is remarkable and exemplary. Residing quite close to the community, the health extension worker, agriculture development army and school nutrition focal person meet regularly and carry out various nutrition activities they set out in their plans.
Collectively as members of NNP committee at kebele level they organize various awareness raising events that have benefited the community. Plus nutrition focused counselling is on their daily to do list. They regularly pay house-to-house visit and follow up families with children under five. They conduct cooking demonstration sessions and help households in preparing homestead garden. Last October they jointly organized a cooking demonstration session that helped educate mothers how to prepare nutritious food to children above six months of age. “We were successful in terms of attracting many families and creating awareness. Other sector office’s involvement to make this happen was really great.’’ Yeshimebet, the Health Extension worker at Zallema said.
Birilew Mintesinot, who leads Bure Woreda nutrition office, remembers how smoothly they made the woreda level coordination structure surged into Kebele level and become functional.
We first identified what we had been doing on nutrition separately. Then we consulted the NNP document and got idea about what every implementing sector is supposed to do. We then developed woreda level structure, and cascaded the same structure down to kebele level. This way we began implementing nutrition multi-sectoral coordination in some selected kebeles and expanding it time to time. Now sectors are well aware that they all have a role on nutrition, Birilew explained
Before, it was only me and my fellow health extension worker who struggled to work on nutrition and strive to get the community to know about the importance of good nutrition, now agriculture, education and other sector offices are all on board and closely work with us as nutrition requires multi-sectoral coordination. I am very delighted to see this has happened. The change is laudable in terms of addressing malnutrition in our locality, Yeshimebet pronounced.
Aligning their action plans, the trio (the health, agriculture and education (school) offices implement joint nutrition plan based on shared understanding on the impact of their sectors’ involvement to reduce malnutrition in their localities. By doing so, they begin to make a difference in the lives of many.
The committee meets once in a month and sees what goes right and what goes wrong with the deeds they are tasked with. They keep a roster of their achievements and failures and openly evaluate one another. They keep a record of their monthly discussions and make a note of action points, which help guide and track their future work. This NNP committee established at kebele level and its strong coordination is exemplary that other regions and localities could learn from.Previously, the nutrition intervention was all left aside only to the health extension workers, now the support from agriculture, education and other relevant sector offices have become part of the works and changes seen around nutrition at Zallema.
The Ethiopian Civil Society Coalition (ECSC) was established in 2013 in order to galvanise efforts to alleviate the burden of malnutrition. The ECSC-SUN is chaired by Save the Children and funded by IrishAid.