The focus is on women and children because the period in the life cycle from the mother’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday referred to as the first 1000 days provides a critical window of opportunity in which scaling up interventions to improve maternal and child nutrition can have a positive impact on the young children’s prospects for survival and development, especially in Sierra Leone with a high burden of under-nutrition.
Having realised that nutrition is a key indicator for development, the Scaling Up of Nutrition (SUN) Movement was established in 2009, and is now a global crusade that Governments, UN Agencies, Donor partners, Business Partners and Civil Society Organizations have joined, in an effort to end under nutrition. For this they set up a global movement called SUN.
Sierra Leone signed up to become a member of the global SUN in February 2012. Then in October of that same year the Movement was launched at the Miatta Conference centre. With this launching Sierra Leone became the 28th member of SUN. At the time of writing there are 61 members of this global Movement.
SUN believes that there is no one cause for malnutrition. Those in the field of nutrition say that the causes of malnutrition are multi-faceted and multi-sectoral. That is why many sectors need to come together to fight malnutrition- MDAs, Donors, the UN Family, the Private Sector Academics and researchers, market women, journalists, religious and traditional leader, etc. Almost everyone is included in the fight because the business of nutrition is everybody’s business.
With such a large field of actors and players, how can the fight against malnutrition be effective and sustained, without creating chaos and confusion? The answer lies in one word: COORDINATION.For coordination to take place without any conflict of interest, you need a neutral body that is not directly involved in implementing nutrition programmes. When SUN was set up, the Government and its partners set up a body called SUN Secretariat in May 2010. It was charged with the main responsibility of coordination.
What is coordination?
Coordination is organising people from different institutions or agencies with the same development AGENDA and focus in order to make them work together to achieve much with minimal resources.
When the SUN Movement was launched in Sierra Leone in October 2012, it was agreed by all the partners that Government should take the LEAD by demonstrating commitment and political will. The Government accepted this and so it decided that the SUN Coordinating body, the SUN Secretariat, should be located in the office of the Presidency according to international best practice.
Those in the SUN Movement come from different backgrounds. But they have the same development agenda and focus. SUN Partners or Networks have the same focus: and that is to reduce malnutrition. The Agenda is the Multi-Sector Strategic Plan to Reduce Malnutrition in Sierra Leone, which was launched on 27th June 2019 by the Vice President Dr. Juldeh Jalloh.0
Coordination is done at both national and sub-national levels. At national level SUN Secretariat brings together representatives from the different networks once every quarter to discuss what is happening in the field of nutrition and food security and to map the way forward. At sub-national level coordination is done through the District Food and Nutrition Security Coordination Committees, which are chaired by the District Councils..
The District Food and Nutrition Security Coordination Committees are given the responsibility to meet regularly- once a month or quarterly as it deems fit. It discusses the issues surrounding food and nutrition security in their district and advises its members on a suitable plan of action. The Minutes of every meeting are kept and a copy sent to the SUN Secretariat in the Office of the Vice President. Through this the SUN Secretariat is informed about what is happening in all the 15 districts in the field of food security and nutrition.