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Happy, 15, is pregnant and lives in a slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Nutrition International’s Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM) provides technical assistance to 20 countries that have signed up to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, with UK aid from the UK government through the TAN project. In 2020, NTEAM conducted progress assessments of eight recent technical assistance assignments, including the support provided to Bangladesh and Pakistan. Improved multi-sectoral coordination and participation emerged as a success of the technical assistance across many countries, which allowed for a greater diversity of opinions, broader support for programs, and ultimately more sustainable outcomes. Enabling collaboration from actors across government departments and partners can be complex, but often some straightforward steps can have the most impact, as exemplified by the experiences of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Between February 2017 and 2018, Nutrition International’s technical assistance in Bangladesh sought to revitalize the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC). The BNNC was strengthened as a coordinator of both government sectors and development partners, with a member of the BNNC calling their improved collaboration a ‘winning team.’ With advocacy and support from the Prime Minister, the BNNC demonstrated its new capacity to drive national policy and multi-sectoral coordination, increasing the number of government ministries involved in nutrition from 17 to 22, and leading all 22 to develop annual nutrition action plans, and to allocate a budget for nutrition activities, in the 2 years since the technical assistance concluded. BNNC is also supporting leadership, planning and implementation efforts at subnational level. Nutrition planning meetings are being held on a regular basis in 70-75% of the 64 districts, with plans underway to appoint District and Upazila nutrition officers.

In Pakistan, prior to the implementation of the Nutrition International supported food safety standards and regulations by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Food Safety and Halal Food Authority (FSA) in late 2018, duplicate regulatory functions existed among different authorities and entities dealing with food which led to confusion and conflict over mandates. This had a negative effect on the enforcement of those standards in the province. Through the TAN project, NTEAM engaged a broad set of stakeholders in the process of developing new food safety standards and regulations, which helped to increase coordination and mutual understanding of roles, and build collaboration in the roll-out process. The technical assistance provided an opportunity to outline the structure, roles, responsibilities and operational jurisdiction of the FSA and various stakeholders in the state of KPK, allowing the province to improve coordination and clarify regulatory functions of various food system authorities. Regular internal technical and operational meetings held within the FSA as well as expert technical committee meetings and other food safety-related forums have also helped.

What are the Progress Assessments? From February to May 2020, Nutrition International’s NTEAM conducted progress assessments of eight completed technical assistance assignments delivered by its TAN project. The purpose of the progress assessment was to evaluate the contribution to expected intermediate outcomes of the technical assistance, including improved scale, coordination, quality, effectiveness, gender equality, inclusion, capacity, and capability.

Further details on the Progress Assessment approach and findings can be found here.