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Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Strengthening Nutrition Governance and Leadership of the Agriculture Sector: Lessons learned from Ethiopia

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Save the Children International

The institutionalization and effective implementation of the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Strategy (NSAS) need strong leadership and governance, human resource structure and capacity, effective and accountable coordination mechanism within MOA and with the National Multi-sectoral Coordination Committee, and financial commitment and system for monitoring the implementation of the NSAS. Despite the tremendous achievements in improving production and productivity and commercialization of agricultural practices, achievements on scaling up nutrition sensitive programs and nutrition outcomes were not satisfactory. The MOA released a NSAS to guide the governance and implementation of NSA to contribute to improved food and nutrition security targets set in the NNP. However, its operationalization was limited to the nutrition team within the ministry, slow at the sub-national level, and constrained by limited human and financial resources.

To guide the system strengthening activities of NSA-CASE, MOA’s Food and Nutrition Coordination Office in collaboration with the project conducted an organizational development assessment (ODA) in 2020 to understand the level of awareness of and response to the NSAS and the national nutrition policies and initiatives among decision makers of MOA and regional agriculture offices, assess coordination structures and nutrition workforce for NSA, and governance and financing for NSAS.

The ODA revealed that there was lack of clear accountability mechanisms to nutrition in the agriculture sector; integration and knowledge of nutrition was at nascent stage with the majority of the senior management and technical staff were unaware of the national food and nutrition policies; the ministry had limited capacity and organizational and staffing structure at national and sub-national levels to discharge its expected roles and responsibilities; nutrition focal persons, who are assigned to the limited available nutrition positions, lack the competencies required to implement and coordinate NSA; the national Food and Nutrition Coordination Platform (FNCP) of the ministry, which is expected to facilitate coordination and decision on policy and strategic nutrition agendas, had no clearly defined scope and was not appropriate platform to coordinate NSA across several directorates of the ministry; there was no defined NSA reporting mechanism; and the main sources of funding for nutrition activities were development partners and sub-national annual work plan activities had limited or on government budget. Using the findings of the assessment as well as best practices from other projects, MOA and NSA-CASE designed strategies to improve nutrition governance within the ministry as well as in the three target regions.

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