Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, February 23, 2015

Scaling up Nutrition - Kenya

18 February 2015. Nairobi. Kenya School of Monetary Studies. Biodiversity and locally available foods provide cheap and ready access to key micronutrients to help boost mother and child nutrition, particularly children from 6 to 24 months of age when breast milk alone is insufficient and mothers switch from exclusive breastfeeding to feeding infants with family foods.

This was the message the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative (B4FN) through its partner, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO), brought to National Nutrition Symposium where the new EU-funded Maternal and Child Malnutrition Program, worth US$ 23 million jointly launched by the Government of Kenya, the European Union and UNICEF in Nairobi, was unveiled.

The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) is a growing group of countries (currently 54) who believe in the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. The GEF 'Mainstreaming biodiversity for nutrition and health' initiative is led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey and coordinated by Bioversity International, with implementation support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and additional support from the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

Titus Mung’ou, Chair of Kenya’s SUN
Civil Society Alliance (CSA)
Kenya’s Civil Society Alliance is part of the Civil Society Network and was set up to ‘Mobilise Civil Societies to Champion Scaling up Nutrition in Kenya.’ The alliance primarily undertakes capacity building of Civil Society Organisations to scale up nutrition, advocacy at national and local level and aims to support the government and, in particular the Ministry of Health, to develop nutrition related policy as well as communication documents.

The Kenya SUN Civil Society Alliance was officially launched on the first ever SUN Global Day of Action on 9th May 2014. On this day, six SUN countries organised specific events, to highlight to their political
leaders the importance of investing in nutrition head of the Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science meeting, hosted by the UK, on the 8th June 2013. The launch, alongside the actions of other countries, gave the CSA the platform to discuss the progress Kenya has made on nutrition since it first joined the SUN movement in 2012 and to develop opportunities for civil society to make their voices heard.

The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has accepted to be the country’s Nutrition Patron. Since 2013, CSA members have been engaging with various SUN networks to position nutrition at the highest level in the government and to establish SUN MSP. The process towards establishing the MSP took another step forward on 23rd January 2015 when, for the first time, all members of the SUN Networks met.

Published on 18 Feb 2015. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta's speech during the National Nutrition Symposium and launch of the GOK-EU-UNICEF Maternal and Child Nutrition Program.

The First Lady welcomed efforts under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) umbrella to bring together stakeholders from the government ministries, donors, UN agencies, civil society and business organizations and particularly efforts to link nutrition to agriculture through the Nutrition Interagency Coordinating Committee (NICC). 

Dr Victor Wasike, National Project Coordinator for the BFN Initiative in Kenya and who also represents BFN on the NICC, was instrumental in advocating the use of biodiversity in food-based interventions to tackle malnutrition. According to Dr Wasike, participating in committees such as the NICC provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the work that the BFN initiative is undertaking at the county and grassroots level in Busia to promote nutrient-rich biodiversity. It can also help significantly in efforts to mainstream biodiversity into national plans and action and the scaling up of local activities. 
Ms. Kenyatta called for “both national and county governments to allocate enough resources to support the implementation of a national nutrition action plan” and offered support for counties to develop their own nutrition plans under Kenya’s new devolved system.

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