Remarks at “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition”

For information on the conference, click here. I spoke as a member of a panel representing the 30+ InterAction members making a $750 million nutrition pledge at the June 8 Nutrition for Growth conference in London.

Thanks, Sam – THP is proud to be part of InterAction and of this pledge.

Our mission is to pioneer bottom-up, gender-focused strategies for integrated rural development – and advocate for their large-scale adoption. We have mobilized the people of more than 20,000 villages across 12 countries of Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to take charge of their own development and make their villages work.

Nutrition is a major challenge for bottom-up development. It’s not a felt need. People don’t feel it, see it or prioritize it the way they do education, income, water or primary health care.

When SUN was launched, our global board of directors made achieving a breakthrough in 1,000 Day nutrition – in all the areas where we work – a top priority in our strategic plan.

Our starting point is the recognition that malnutrition in the 1,000 Day window is fundamentally a gender issue. Girls eat last and least. They are pulled out of school to work in the home. Girls are married too young, and have babies before their bodies are fully developed.

We tackle the gender components with gender training for the thousands of local volunteer animators – both women and men – who educate everyone in their community that the health of everyone depends on the nutrition of girls.

We train thousands of local women leaders who mount campaigns to halt child marriage, promote good 1000-day nutrition and good pre-natal care for all pregnant mothers, and ensure safe water supply, safe sanitation, and good hygiene.

One of the keys of our strategies is to build a strong, responsive partnership between grassroots level government and the people. We are working with the nurse-midwives at our community health centers to provide good 1,000 Days nutrition knowledge to pregnant and nursing mothers.
At our community training farms in Africa, farmers learn to grow and process nutritious crops, and with microfinance, they’ve diversified local diets with more protein.

Government nurses and farm extension agents are in short supply. We leverage their expertise by training volunteer health and agriculture animators who can reach everyone in the surrounding villages.

We are not technical experts. Our expertise is social mobilizing and empowering people. So we partner with local experts to train our animators in Essential Nutrition Actions.

NGOs know that our work, alone, is never enough. Our central role is to empower people to know their rights, find their voice and build institutions that work for everyone. Our country directors and staff – all local – are joining the SUN Civil Society platforms and getting a seat at the policy table – bringing what we’ve learned works to country-led strategies. With their leadership and our collective support, we can ensure country-led strategies are effective, and truly put the end of malnutrition within our reach.