Better Together: Multi-stakeholder platforms to support nutrition advocacy, planning and coordination

Nutrition International's Pakistan Country Director presents on MSPs at the SUN Global Gathering

Dr Shabina Raza, Nutrition International Country Director, Pakistan.

Kathmandu, NEPAL — Workshop 13 at the SUN Global Gathering, entitled “Better Together,” held on Wednesday, November 6th 2019, explored the reforms being undertaken by SUN countries with respect to their governance arrangements to fit the purpose and demands of effective multi-sectoral programming for nutrition.

SUN countries have recognized the critical importance of functional, coordinated and accountable Multi-Stakeholder/Multi-Sectoral Platforms (MSP) as the right mechanisms to accelerate progress. These MSPs convene diverse actors to set priorities, and to plan and implement nutrition actions at national and sub-national levels. Well-constituted and functional MSPs are better placed to galvanize political momentum and mobilize financing for implementation.

Nutrition International’s Country Director for Pakistan, Dr. Shabina Raza, moderated the workshop which attracted participation of representatives of the Governments of Benin and Somalia as well Civil Society Networks Chairs from Bangladesh and Somalia. The participants presented and shared their experiences with MSPs, the challenges faced and possible solutions. The workshop was held in the plenary hall and was highly attended, demonstrating a high level of interest in the topic. Following the presentations, the audience joined the conversation, and shared their own countries’ experiences.

Key takeaways from the session included:

  • High level political commitment, and government ownership and leadership being a critical factor to drive a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral agenda, with many countries placing their MSP under the prime minister’s or president’s office.
  • A strong convening entity is needed to ensure consistency in the functionality of MSP once established. The need for a shared multisectoral workplan was also recognized as crucial for tracking progress.
  • Decentralized coordination structures such as in Bangladesh, aided by clear operational guidelines civil society support, are increasingly assuming the role of planning and implementing actions at their levels.
  • Running an MSP could be burdensome, hence countries like Benin adopted a rotational option for the MSP leadership and hosting, which also ensures ownership and resource sharing.
  • Institutionalized structures can help to coordinate, align and monitor a multi-sectoral programme. Malawi’s 4 1’s (coordinating body; monitoring and evaluation framework; Social Behavior Change and Communication strategy; and Strategic Plan) have helped to drive forward implementation.
  • Where a large number of development actors exist, such as in fragile countries, coordination and a mapping of services are critical to ensure no overlap or gap in services. In Somalia, despite the humanitarian challenge, a multi-sectoral plan was developed, and the coordination body sits at the highest level of the Prime Minister’s office, with nutrition forming part of the social sector sub-committee. The UN Network supported a mapping of services.
  • Many challenges remain to multi-sectoral programming. Challenges noted within the session included a disconnect between what is budgeted for and what the actual needs are, and a lack of ‘bottom up’ planning, resulting in difficulty in securing local government buy-in.

It was also announced that a Toolkit for Multi-stakeholder Platforms will be publicly accessible in early 2020. The toolkit was developed by the SUN Movement with support from Nutrition International (NI) under the TAN project, funded with UK aid from the UK government. A link to the toolkit will be shared in a later NI TAN update.