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Four county governments in Kenya have launched their County Nutrition Action Plans (CNAPs) 2019-2023. The governors of Busia, Vihiga, Nandi and Makueni counties unveiled the plans during colourful events that brought together various stakeholders, among them Nutrition International’s President and CEO Joel Spicer, representatives from national and county ministries and departments, and nutrition partners.

The main aim of the CNAPs is to contribute to the Kenya National Nutrition Action Plan (KNAP) 2018-2022 goal of ‘achieving optimal nutrition for a healthier and better quality of life and improved productivity for the country’s accelerated social and economic growth’. With support from Nutrition International and partners, the KNAP was developed to provide strategic direction and accelerate scale-up efforts towards the elimination of malnutrition as a public health problem. Using the KNAP as a guide, the CNAPs were developed to address county-specific nutrition issues and propose interventions that are appropriate for the local context.

The development of the CNAPs is in line with changes in Kenya’s political environment that resulted in the creation of 47 county governments. The role of county governments has become critical in ensuring the successful implementation of sustainable nutrition actions. With support from the Government of Canada and with UKaid from the UK Government, Nutrition International and partners are providing technical support to 16 counties, including an initial seven counties, to develop nutrition action plans. These plans were developed through a consultative process involving all stakeholders in health and nutrition, as well as other line county departments. This process included the county health leadership, county government line departments, county line ministries, development partners and implementing partners.

The CNAPs identify priority multi-sectoral nutrition actions for each sector, define targets for each intervention, and provide a monitoring and accountability framework as well as costing of interventions which county governments can use for subsequent planning and budgeting.

“For over 25 years Nutrition International has remained committed to its core vision: a world where everyone, everywhere, is free from malnutrition and able to reach their full potential. Nutrition International Kenya works closely with government (national and County), to support research, policy development and implementation of nutrition interventions in the country. The development of the County Nutrition Action Plans in Kenya is a key milestone in our continued quest to contribute to addressing the problem of malnutrition,” said Martha Nyagaya, Nutrition International Kenya Country Director, during the launch of the plans.

County Governors commended Nutrition International and partners who supported the development of the CNAPs, which they termed a roadmap to improving nutrition in Kenya.

“The CNAPs light the path for the implementation of low-cost, high-impact activities that will have the greatest impact on the largest number of people,” said Mr. Spicer. “It takes a multi-sectoral approach because nutrition is a multi-sectoral issue where health, education and agriculture come together. The plan also defines targets, coordination and accountability mechanisms needed to make sure this plan is not just a piece of paper but something that will save and improve people’s lives.”

In Kenya, it is estimated that between 2010 and 2030, undernutrition will cost the economy approximately US$38.3 billion. “Imagine what we could do with that money if we invested it in prevention and creating health,” Mr. Spicer reflected.

During the launch of the Makueni CNAP, the Head of Kenya’s Nutrition and Dietetics Division, Veronica Kirogo, presented an overview of the country’s malnutrition situation. Kenya is facing a triple burden of malnutrition, with the coexistence of undernutrition (stunting, wasting or underweight), overweight or obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies. Out of 7.22 million children under five, nearly 1.9 million are stunted (26%), 290,000 are wasted (4%) and 794,200 (11%) are underweight.

Following the launch of CNAPs in four counties, Nutrition International held roundtable discussions with county government officials to mobilize resources for nutrition through a matched grant that seeks to increase domestic resource allocation to the costed nutrition plans.