Updates from the Scaling Up Nutrition Global Gathering 2019 in Kathmandu.
The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Global Gathering, held in Kathmandu earlier this month, mobilised a global response to address multi-dimensional aspects negatively impacting nutrition. The conference aim was to reflect on challenges, review progress, and share learning. Attended by representatives from governments, civil society, media, academia and private sectors, delegates took part in workshops and plenary sessions to ‘engage, inspire and invest’ in the shared aim of ending hunger and malnutrition. The conference built momentum towards the ‘Nutrition for Growth Summit’, to be held in Tokyo in 2020, and informed the future direction of the SUN Movement from 2021 to 2025. The focus was on sustainable nutrition, and the necessary roles communities, technical experts, states and countries must fulfil to achieve this.
The conference was well-placed, being held in Nepal. Malnutrition is one of the biggest threats to the economic and social prosperity of the country; Far West Nepal has some of the highest rates of malnutrition in Asia. 50% of infant mortality in children under 5 in Nepal is malnutrition-related. 36% of children are stunted (low height for age) and 10% are ‘wasted’, suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Our malnutrition work focuses on provinces 6 and 7 in the mountainous, Far West regions of Nepal. The infant mortality rate in these provinces is 43/1000 compared to 28/1000 nationally (WHO, 2018). 49% of children and 40% of women in these areas have anaemia, and our data shows that malnutrition rates can be as high as 73% (Rugin) in some areas.
A lack of healthcare services and nutritional guidance are further exacerbated by a lack of food security in the region. A recent survey conducted by PHASE Nepal showed that in one of our health post project areas (Bichhaya), 91% of farmers can only produce enough food for their family for 3 to 6 months of the year. This demonstrates that interventions in malnutrition must be delivered alongside activities to increase the availability of nutritious foods, preventing, not just treating malnutrition.
Experienced Auxiliary Nurse Midwives work with community members, to promote nutritional best practice (particularly within the first 1000 days of life), provide antenatal care and Agricultural Technicians train female farmers in methods to produce more resilient, nutritious and abundant produce. Focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable, who often eat the least and eat last, mothers, means that they can provide a healthier start for their children, and break the cycle of intergenerational malnutrition.
This integrated approach complements the Government of Nepal Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan II (2018-2022) and by working with remote communities, PHASE is ensuring that improvements in nutrition reach those who need it the most.
Evidence presented at the conference shows progress has been made, but much still needs to be done, with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Roadmap target to eliminate malnutrition in all forms by 2030. As a member, Nepal has ambitious targets reduce stunting from an average of 36% in 2016/17 (NDHS) to meeting the World Health Assessment Targets of 25% by 2025, and SDG goal of 15% by 2030.
Following on from our successful DFID funded work tackling malnutrition in Humla, and our current project in Mugu addressing the causes of malnutrition, we will soon be releasing exciting news in the next few weeks to continue our commitment to scaling up sustainable nutrition solutions. Watch this space!