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Tracking nutrition aid with the SUN Donor Network

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Quick overview

The 2017 Investment Framework for Nutrition (IFN) estimated the cost and financing needs to achieve several World Health Assembly (WHA) nutrition targets by 2025. An estimated annual investment of USD7 billion would be required over ten years to finance the scale-up of evidence-based interventions to achieve these targets. Donors, governments, innovative financing mechanisms, businesses, and even consumers themselves need to act in “global solidarity” for increased and sustained resources mobilized to accelerate progress against malnutrition.

Donor spending refers to the external support provided to scale up national-level nutrition programming from country donors, multilateral donors (including the European Union, development banks and UN institutions) and private donors. During the two first phases of the SUN Movement, the SUN Donor Network (SDN) has worked towards more and better funding for an effective implementation of SUN countries’ national nutrition plans.

Tracking SDN Investments for the WHA nutrition targets (2010-2017)

Across all SUN constituency groups, better data, measurement and accountability is essential to facilitate more effective financing for nutrition. Several mechanisms exist to store commitments and report on progress, including the Global Nutrition Report which since its creation has been collecting data on financing from SUN Donors. Check data on donor financing on the Global Nutrition Report

Background information 

SDN – Towards a Common Methodology to Track Global Investments in Nutrition
• View the Progress Report (the feature can be found in Chapter 2)
• View the SUN Donor Resource Tracking extract

Improvements in global tracking of donor disbursements

Strengthening of the quality of nutrition aid reporting and the development of analytical tools to track donor’s nutrition spending are perhaps the best examples capturing the evolution of the collaboration between SUN donor agencies. The SUN Donor Network has been using data from the OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS) to monitor spending against commitments made at the first Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit in 2013. However, the CRS previously showed limited ability to track aid for nutrition and had to be improved in the recent years.

Improvements to the CRS on resource tracking

  • The purpose code for basic nutrition has been amended to remove school feeding and match the global definition of nutrition-specific
  • The CRS has added new purpose codes for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that will make it easier to track aid projects related to the prevention and treatment of NCDs—which importantly includes investments to reduce exposure to unhealthy diets that promote obesity.
  • Additionally, a nutrition policy marker will be introduced to better track nutrition aid across sectors thanks to the collaboration of the SUN Donor Network (France in particular) and other SUN Movement partners including ‘Action Contre la Faim’. The OECD Working Party adopted this voluntary policy marker for nutrition to serve the identification of nutrition investments across purpose codes. The marker will be scored on a three-point scale: 0 for not targeted to nutrition; 1 if nutrition is a significant part of project objectives, but not the principle reason for undertaking the project; and 2 if improving nutrition is the principle objective of the project.
  • New private philanthropic donors have begun reporting to the OECD, including the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, enabling the CRS to capture additional information on donor financing.

Implementing the OECD nutrition policy marker

A major step forward for nutrition aid tracking was achieved through the adoption of a policy marker for nutrition in July 2018, thanks to a close collaboration between the SUN Donor Network, France and Action Against Hunger. The nutrition policy marker – like the one adopted for gender equality – will allow for better accounting of progress towards the global nutrition targets including both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive investments across sectors.

How it works: All donor projects will be evaluated for their relevance to nutrition and given a policy marker score according to how prominent nutrition is in the investment, on a three-point scale. This means investments across sectors and purpose codes that integrate nutrition activities, goals and outcomes can be identified.

The new and improved CRS code and policy marker are excellent examples of collaboration between donors, civil society and the OECD. They signal a long-term change in leadership, governance and mutual accountability to address the global challenge of malnutrition, which will benefit recipient countries, donors, researchers and civil society.

The SUN Donor Network, the SUN Movement Secretariat and the OECD Secretariat are currently developing a guidance document to support DAC member agencies in adopting and implementing the nutrition policy marker. The SDN-OECD nutrition policy marker guidelines are still in progress but close to being finalized in 2020. The guidelines will include a short note about quantification of the policy marker, saying that recommendations are forthcoming based on more detailed data review.

• The OECD Nutrition Policy Marker Handbook – English


• Global Nutrition Report 2020 – Chapter 5

• Global Nutrition Report 2018 – Chapter 5

Moving forward

The aim of the SDN is to align on recommendations for the application and interpretation of the OECD nutrition policy marker—including quantification—in advance of the N4G Summit. DAC members are encouraged to apply the policy marker in 2020 for an effective reporting to the CRS in 2021.

The 2021 Nutrition for Growth and Food Systems Summits provide a window of opportunity for a joint donor commitment to report using the policy marker. Furthermore, the N4G commitments guide already suggests the use of the OECD policy Marker as the standard tracking tool for reporting on financial commitments.

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