In a significant stride towards advancing nutrition outcomes in Benue state, CS-SUNN has successfully established a chapter in the state and equipped the state alliance with essential advocacy and budget tracking skills for enhanced nutrition outcomes. The establishment of the chapter also saw the election of leaders to key positions, including Coordinator, Deputy Coordinator, Secretary, Financial Secretary, and PRO.
This feat was attained at a Capacity Building Workshop on Advocacy Strategy and Budget Tracking, coupled with a Breakfast Meeting with high-level nutrition stakeholders in Benue state aimed at empowering participants with the necessary competencies to effectively advocate for improved nutrition, particularly among women and children.
Dr. Priscilla Mwase Utoo, Deputy State Coordinator of CS-SUNN Benue Chapter from Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, expressed her satisfaction at the end of the workshop, stating, “I am so glad that CS-SUNN brought us a platform where Civil Society Organizations can harmonize efforts in the state to achieve significant nutrition milestones, the workshop was really impactful and challenging towards better nutrition outcomes in our state.”
Dickson Martins Udeh, General Secretary of CS-SUNN Benue Chapter from Local Communities Development Initiative, commended the alliance for establishing a state chapter and emphasized the workshop’s timely nature. ‘CS-SUNN has really done well by establishing a state chapter in Benue state. The workshop came at the right time, which was a platform to broaden my horizon in nutrition, most especially the tracking of nutrition funds, which we have never done before. Honestly, the facilitators have really done well with ensuring we understand every session of the workshop. We are committed to delivering on the objectives set before us working with every necessary stakeholder’.
Josephine Pitila from Women Health Empowerment and Peace Initiative shared her newfound understanding of advocacy, emphasizing that the training had opened her eyes to the broader scope of the discipline. “I have been to many training on advocacy and I was unable to pick anything tangible but this training has opened my eyes to the needful. Infact, I can track nutrition budget as taught. Before now, I had thought that advocacy is just sensitization but it is more than that and most especially, it is not activism. The facilitators have been able to impact the needed knowledge adequately. Kudos.”
The workshop engaged 27 participants, offering both theoretical and practical sessions on advocacy, advocacy cycle, stakeholders’ analysis, goals and objectives, message development and delivery, policy landscape, and budget tracking. It equipped participants with the required skills and competencies to effectively advocate for improved Nutrition and raised a team of core trainers with adequate training skills and knowledge on advocacy and Budget tracking. The workshop successfully trained 21 identified state chapter members on nutrition advocacy and budget tracking, ensuring their commitment to the project’s objectives.
CS-SUNN also convened with 21 high-level key nutrition stakeholders during a Breakfast Meeting to garner support for improved nutrition funding and advocate for an extended 4 to 6 months paid maternity leave in the state.
The establishment of the Benue Chapter of CS-SUNN is poised to elevate nutrition advocacy in the state. The coalition formed by these foot soldiers provides opportunities for project/program funding aligned with CS-SUNN’s strategic focus. Importantly, this initiative supports the implementation of the CS-SUNN, UNICEF-supported “Increased Investment in Nutrition to Scale-Up Quality Nutrition Services” project across 19 states, including Benue. The primary goal is to boost budget allocation and utilization for nutrition programs, with a specific target of increasing funding from 2 million to 3 million USD at the Federal and selected states. Additionally, the project aims to secure extended paid maternity leave for civil servants in selected states from 4 to 6 months.