With the sun setting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world is looking towards a new global strategy to put the world to rights through ending poverty and inequity: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ambitious SDG 2 aims to 'End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture,' leaving those of us working in nutrition to ask ourselves what we can do differently to ensure that we achieve this goal.
A movement to end hunger and malnutrition
For the past four years, the SUN Global Gathering, which took place from the 20-22 October 2015 in Milan, Italy, has been a forum for discussions around ending hunger and malnutrition and setting benchmarks for developing countries to reach better national outcomes through collaboration, dialogue and discussion.
In Sierra Leone the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Alliance and the Global Alliance for Vaccinations Initiative have created a joint platform (HANSLCSP) that aims to tackle health and nutrition in a multi-sectoral manner. This approach has been tested to its limits during the Ebola crisis which recently affected the country. Last year, a Global Gathering was organised where 36 civil society organisations looked at wayforward and shared experience with representatives from the SUN Civil Society Network.
The SUN Movement was founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. Every year, the Gathering brings together governments, the United Nations Family, civil society, businesses and research institutions in a collective effort to increase political attention and encourage support for countries engaged in scaling up nutrition and the Movement as a whole. It is an opportunity for partners and countries to take stock of their progress so far and map the way forward.
Recognizing the right to food
Developing countries have signed up to a series of Global commitments through the SUN Movement, such as theNutrition for Growthinitiative which aims to 'prevent at least 20 million children from being stunted and saving at least 1.7 million lives by 2020'. SUN Movement members commit to achieving theWorld Health Assembly targetsworking within a rights based framework, recognizing the right to food and nutrition and ensuring that they work in a mutually accountable and responsible manner along with respecting otherprinciplesin the SUN Movement.
In Sierra Leone we have been working on the right to food and nutrition at a community level. Our key focus this year has been policy advocacy for the inclusion of the right to food in the national Constitution which is under review. Recognition in the Constitution would heighten the importance of food and nutrition security for national development.
On the second anniversary of the Nutrition for Growth initiativeour platformcollaborated with ACF (Action Against Hunger) to organise a round table discussion on the country's progress on Scaling Up Nutrition, bringing together 30 stakeholders from government, the United Nations, donors and civil society to discuss progress and what needs to be done for us to get back on track after the Ebola outbreak.
Recognising the need to accelerate efforts, we have engaged the Sierra Leone Market Women's Association, a dynamic network for community mobilisation and are now bringing on board religious leaders and traditional healers to supportnutritionand immunisation efforts. We have also trained media practitioners on ethical reporting of health issues, with specific reference to nutrition and nutrition sensitive issues. There is now at least one media representative in every district across the country focusing on health reporting.
Collaboration and commitment
The SUN Movement can boast of high-level political and donor commitment. It has been able to build on partnerships with civil society, a critical network for reaching and empowering communities to take action for positive behavior change, reminding government of its commitments and pushing for policy change for nutrition. Business communities and research institutions are coming on board bringing expertise to concretise strategies in collaboration with other SUN members for better nutrition.
With all these opportunities for ending hunger and malnutrition, the SUN Global Gathering creates high expectation from the participants who now look to the Global Movement for a clear direction on how we can achieve our intended results. In my view the SUN will rise and shine through our efforts as one united body working in partnership under one umbrella. Let us all play our part and bring out the best from the 2015 Global Gathering as we work towards improving the lives of future generations.
Find out more about the SUN Movementhere at their website.
Find out more about the SUN Civil Society Networkhere on their website.