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26 January 2023 - News


Community health workers inspecting one of the kitchen gardens. Photo Credit: Lorraine Anyango, Ministry of Health, Kisumu County

By Joyce Nyaboga, Capacity Strengthening Advisor

Grassroots civil society organizations (CSOs) play a pivotal role in generating demand, securing political commitment, and ensuring accountability for nutrition results, which are the key ingredients to sustainable nutrition programming. But in order to do this, CSOs must be equipped with multi-sectoral nutrition advocacy skills, networks, and platforms to harness community voices to prioritize action and hold local governments accountable.  

In Kenya’s Kakamega, Kisumu, and Kitui Counties, USAID Advancing Nutrition conducted a network and mapping analysis of potential multi-sectoral nutrition platforms to identify prospective CSOs to participate in and contribute to joint planning and review of nutrition outcomes. The findings informed the selection of a diverse set of ten CSOs working with women, children and youth active in nutrition sectors (education, health, agriculture, water, and social protection) who have the potential to provide considerable community support to effectively advocate for multi-sectoral nutrition.  

In coordination with the selected CSOs, a capacity needs assessment on nutrition advocacy identified CSO challenges to design and implement nutrition-sensitive programming, conduct monitoring and evaluation (especially tracking nutrition outcomes and indicators), and understand government planning and budgeting cycles necessary to influence nutrition priorities. Consequently, USAID Advancing Nutrition led technical co-creation workshops across the three counties to develop actions to address these gaps. The process culminated in the creation of diverse programming that strengthened linkages to sectoral technical working groups, committees, and greater partnership opportunities at the subnational level. 

"We have been enlightened on the government budget cycle, program-based budgeting, nutrition advocacy, and even the use of scorecards for accountability and tracking our progress. As CSOs we are advocating for nutrition-sensitive and specific flagship programs to be prioritized in the county plans and budgets," says  Director of Jiupachi CSO Mrs. Eunice Owino

Early results are promising. Having acquired the knowledge to advocate for nutrition issues, Shibuye Community Health Workers in Kakamega County are working with USAID Advancing Nutrition-trained nutrition champions on nutrition-sensitive activities such as supporting communities to set up kitchen gardens. In Kisumu, Kidogo Innovations Solutions advocated for and used the multi-sectoral nutrition platform to establish the first breastfeeding center in Kibuye market, the largest fish and vegetable market in Kisumu and the neighboring counties. The center is now able to provide opportunities for mothers who are small-scale traders to exclusively breastfeed their infants in a dignified manner. The successful launch has led to promising prospects for scale up in two other markets in the county.

Ultimately, the capacity strengthening support to increase network linkages and support local policy goals has enabled CSOs to participate more effectively across both county and sub-county level multi-sectoral nutrition coordination mechanisms, better align their interventions with nutrition-sensitive and -specific policies, and link with nutrition champions to better reach communities. USAID Advancing Nutrition’s focus on utilizing multi-sectoral nutrition platforms to design local solutions demonstrated not only an approach to increase local CSO capabilities, but even more importantly increased community contribution to the nutrition outcomes.