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A delegation of six members from the Somali government and one representative from the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement participated in a benchmarking tour to Ethiopia. The objective of this visit was to learn about the achievements of the Seqota Declaration and to share experiences and lessons learned to inform the development and implementation of multisector nutrition programs aimed at addressing stunting and other forms of child malnutrition.  

Group of men and women facing the camera
The Somali Delegates at the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia to meet with the State Minister

Benchmarking tours are done by SUN members around the world and provide an invaluable forum for countries to identify solutions to the challenges they are facing and highlight best practices that can be applied in similar contexts as they work toward a shared goal of ending malnutrition. The Seqota Declaration, unveiled by the Government of Ethiopia in July 2015, is a high-level commitment to use all available resources to end childhood undernutrition by 2030. Since 2017, Nutrition International, through its Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM), has supported the Ethiopian government to build its capacity to implement the declaration. 

Group of men and women in a garden
The delegates visit the Ebinat woreda

Dr. Sisay Sinamo and Bisrat Haile, two of Nutrition International’s technical assistance experts, coordinated the tour. Dr. Sinamo provided technical assistance during the visit as the SUN Focal Person in Ethiopia and the Senior Program Manager for the Seqota Declaration Federal Program Delivery Unit (SD-FPDU), while Haile supports the SD-FPDU as an Implementation Advisor and served as the Focal Person for the Somali delegation. 

During the five-day learning exchange, the Ethiopian Seqota Declaration team shared experiences on how to improve the effective coordination of joint leadership, planning, funding and implementation across sectors, stakeholders and government levels. Some of the lessons learned during the exchange included: 

  • How to institutionalize an integrated joint planning approach and supervision to all regions and districts 
  • How to successfully conduct high-level inter-ministerial reviews to build political commitment 
  • How to sustain multisector collaboration across networks within the platform 
  • How to leverage existing government structures to accelerate implementation of the multisectoral nutrition strategy across all levels 
Group of people standing in a circle watching a demonstration
The delegates participate in a cooking demonstration in West Belesa woreda

Additionally, the delegates visited several Ethiopian ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture and Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and the SUN Civil Society offices. They also visited the Ebinat and West Belesa woredas where they met with sub-national nutrition administrators. These meetings served to raise awareness of how the Seqota Declaration successfully utilized multisector and multi-level efforts to improve nutrition in the country.

“We appreciated the overall coordination and reception of the Ethiopia nutrition team to make the benchmarking tour successful,” said Dr. Mohamed Abdi Farah, National SUN Focal Person in Somalia. “Both the field and the national level benchmarking tour helped us to capture learning on nutrition multisectoral coordination and governance that in turn can be domesticated upon our return home.” 

Equipped with increased knowledge on nutrition coordination and governance, the Somali delegates will seek to replicate Ethiopia’s success at home utilizing the learnings from the benchmarking tour to strengthen national coordination and to inform future nutrition strategies as the government works to tackle all forms of malnutrition, with a particular focus on stunting reduction in the country.