Agriculture Community Development Food

Zimbabwe doing well in nutrition advocacy

Stakeholders discussing ways of scaling up nutrition

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Stakeholders involved in the advocacy for the improvement of Zimbabwe’s nutrition needs under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement banner convened in Harare on Friday to validate the country’s progress in the implementation of the global SUN3.0 strategy.

In an interview, Food and Nutrition Council Acting Deputy Director Nutrition, Ms. Siboniso Chigova said the country is faring well, especially in the area of multisectoral coordination, planning, and knowledge management.

She explained that as part of the SUN movement, they are mandated to get an appraisal of the nation’s progress in meeting the set objectives.

‘So annually, as part of this global movement, we are supposed to undertake what is known as the joint annual assessment where we celebrate the successes, reflect on progress, identify gaps, and proffer priorities for the following year. The assessment also bridges the synergy between country networks and the global support system (GSS) where it’s easier to identify opportunities and areas for support.

“Each country under the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement needs to go through and assess whether we are in sync with what is agreed globally. So here in this meeting, we have different networks. We had the business network, the UN Network on nutrition. We had the government departments and civil society represented.

“So this multisectoral platform’s purpose is to agree on what we have managed to do as a country in 2022: our achievements, identifying gaps, and how to improve our functionality,” Ms. Chigova said.

Ms. Chigova noted that Zimbabwe is progressing in the field of multisectoral coordination, policy formulation, and knowledge management.

“We are doing fairly well with regard to coordination. How our multi-stakeholders in the country are coordinating towards common results such as stunting reduction and addressing micronutrient deficiency, particularly for women and children, who are most vulnerable. The other area we are very good at is the strong policy environment.

“We have a strong policy environment augmented by high political commitments towards the improvement of the nutrition outcomes in the country. For instance, the health sector finalised the Food Fortification Strategy, and launched the National Health Strategy and all these have nutrition reflected in the key strategic documents.

“In addition, the Food Mitigation Strategy from the ministry of public works, labour, and social welfare was reviewed and now includes nutrition as part of the targeting criteria which is an achievement when we are looking at a systems approach to address nutrition challenges. It is one step towards ensuring that social protection interventions are nutrition-sensitive,” she said.

With Zimbabwe updating its language base to 16, Ms. Chigova said they have managed to make food and nutrition security knowledge available in several dialects which were previously overlooked, attesting to the mantra of leaving no one behind.

“In sharing knowledge management, we are doing well to translate most of our information system to the local languages. For example, after undertaking the annual Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment, we now have factsheets in all the official languages.

“Collaborative efforts across networks have yielded knowledge exchange platforms like exhibitions, and food fairs where smallholder farmers, researchers and the community interact together and link them. Moreso the platforms may influenced improved consumption of diverse, locally available, nutritious diets. And it can only happen when we have strong coordination and enabling policy environment,” she said.

SUN Business Network chairperson, Ms. Mercy Chatyoka-Jowa echoed the same sentiments as Ms. Chigova that Zimbabwe is coping well inasmuch as food and nutrition security is concerned.

It is through apt coordination that the SUN Business network has been able to participate in African fora on nutrition.

“As part of AU, last year was declared the AU Year of Nutrition and we fully contributed as a country and network. We put in our contributions as Zimbabwe and action plans. Also as part of the Business network, we also participated at the 2022 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Summit in Rwanda where we also attended engagement between investors and smallholder farmers and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for funding deal rooms to ensure more funding to continue with our innovative product offerings on the market,” she said.

Ms. Chatyoka-Jowa also said, “And we also appeal this year for support to attend this year because it is going to be relaunched under the name African Food Systems Forum. We are appealing for support for our smallholder farmers, for our partner networks, and the SUN business network to attend the same event because that is where we have peer-to-peer learning sessions that are more focused on nutrition offerings alone.”

Zimbabwe has been part of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement since 2011 and various networks have been formed and are at different levels of functionality. The Food and Nutrition Council, Director General, Dr. George D Kembo, is the SUN National Convener for Zimbabwe.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende