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Between 2017 and 2019, Nutrition International’s Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM) supported the Government of Kenya in reviewing the previous National Nutrition Action Plan 2012-2017 (NNAP) and in developing the new action plan known as Kenya Nutrition Action Plan II (KNAP II). NTEAM’s work, via the Technical Assistance for Nutrition (TAN) project, focused on developing the costing framework for the KNAP II, which is considered by partners to be one of the most useful sections of the KNAP II. The framework was developed through a consultative and evidence-informed approach, and draws on lessons learned from the previous NNAP. The resulting user-friendly and practical costing framework served as a solid foundation for the first-ever County Nutrition Action Plans (CNAPs), which NTEAM helped to develop. The framework revealed a significant nutrition planning and financing gap in Kenya, which is unlikely to be met without increased domestic resource contributions at all levels.

The investments of development partners were recognized as a lever that could serve to encourage increased discretionary budgetary allocations to nutrition at the subnational level, and the KNAP II costing framework also underscored the need for subnational governments to be supported with costed county nutrition implementation plans. The costed CNAPs have proven to be instrumental in mobilizing additional domestic resources in Kenya, and NTEAM hopes this experience can inspire and guide other countries in their bid to strengthen subnational level planning, resource mobilization and financial tracking. Importantly, county representatives had participated in the development of the KNAP II, which greatly facilitated buy-in for the CNAP process.

Between July and December 2019, NTEAM’s technical assistance (TA) providers worked with County Nutrition Coordinators and multisectoral teams of nutrition stakeholders in Kajiado, Makueni, Nandi, Tharaka Nithi, Busia, Vihiga and Elgeyo Marakwet counties to develop their CNAPs. These seven CNAPs were produced through an inclusive and consultative process with nutrition-sensitive sectors (which varied by county, but could include health, education, water and sanitation, gender, social protection, and agriculture, livestock and fisheries), development partners, civil society organizations, NGOs and the private sector, and were launched by the Governors in each of the counties. From February to November 2020, through an adapted process given the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, NTEAM successfully supported five more counties to develop and finalize their CNAPs: Nakuru, Bomet, Murang’a, Embu and Kiambu. The combined cost of implementing the 12 CNAPs over four to five years would be KSH 21.8B total (approximately $253M CAD), ranging between KSH 1.2B and 2.6B for each county ($14M to $30M CAD).

One of the most valuable tools developed by NTEAM to help operationalize the CNAPs is the multistakeholder financial tracking tool. This allows counties to monitor nutrition expenditures by activity and outcome across government, NGOs and the private sector, thus identifying the funding available for each outcome and where resources fall short. See Figure 2 for a sample section of the financial tracking tool being used in one county.

Figure 2 Sample of financial tracking tool from Busia

Figure 2 Sample of financial tracking tool from Busia

The CNAPs have also proven to be an important advocacy tool, which, coupled with the financial tracking tool, have been pivotal in mobilizing domestic resources for nutrition. Underlining its confidence in, and commitment to the CNAPs, Nutrition International, with funding from the Government of Canada, signed performance-based agreements with four counties − Busia, Vihiga, Makueni and Nandi − committing to match new national investments in nutrition on a one-to-one basis. So far this combined commitment has mobilized CAD $3.6M of new funding for nutrition actions in those counties. Nutrition International is continuing to negotiate performance-based agreements with other counties. The Governor of Kajiado has recently committed KSH 51M (about CAD $588,000) more to their CNAP and is in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nutrition International to match the investment, which will bring the total raised by the CNAPs to approximately $4.8M CAD. This matched funding model, and NTEAM’s support in developing the CNAPs, have been recognized as important factors in Kenya’s success in mobilizing resources for nutrition.

In addition to successfully mobilizing financial resources, NTEAM support sought to strengthen counties’ capacities for nutrition planning by working alongside county officials to develop the tools and carry out training on nutrition planning. An NTEAM assessment of officials’ capacity for developing nutrition action plans in five counties before and after the TA was delivered indicates results in this area as well. The assessment noted improvements in their knowledge about defining key result areas (up 6.7%), costing (up 9.8%) and gender (up 21%) in particular. NTEAM believes that all 48 counties in Kenya should be adequately equipped with the capacity to develop their own CNAPs independently. To this end, NTEAM is developing CNAP guidelines and templates with information about how to form a secretariat to oversee the CNAP process and approvals, as well as key steps, such as defining gender-sensitive key result areas.

Nutrition International is also supporting select counties to develop County Nutrition Investment Cases which will demonstrate the high return on investment from nutrition interventions and will further support counties to advocate to central government and donors to achieve full funding of the CNAPs. Nutrition International’s country office in Kenya is also pursuing MoUs with the remaining counties which have launched CNAPs to match their investments in nutrition, and has applied TAN’s model for CNAP development to four additional counties in the last year. The development of the County Nutrition Investment Cases, the four additional CNAPs and the MOUs for matched funding are supported with funding from both the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, and through NTEAM’s TAN project, which is funded with UK aid from the UK government.