Two County chapters of the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) have been successfully established with leaders elected in Nyamira and Kiambu Counties, Kenya in February 2023. The establishment of these two counties comes on the heels of the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria’s (CS-SUNN) technical assistance (TA) aimed at strengthening Civil Society Advocacy & Accountability in Kenya. Prior to CS-SUNN’s entry into Kenya, the Kenyan CSA had only 7 established county chapters. CS-SUNN’s TA grew the numbers from 7 to an additional 10 counties by 2023 bringing the current total number of county chapters to 17.
The tactical approach:
CS-SUNN held planning meetings with the Kenya CSA team in February 2023 to agree on the road map for the effective implementation of some key activities relevant to the attainment of the goal of strengthening the CSA and the establishment of more county chapters in Nyamira and Kiambu. A two-day meeting further covered capacity-building activities on nutrition interventions in Kenya, the nutrition situation in Kenya, the leadership structure of the Kenya SUN CSA and best practices from CS-SUNN.
The Established County Chapters:
The Nyamira County chapter was established on 14th February 2023 alongside the inauguration of the chapter’s executives in Nyamira while the Kiambu County Chapter was established on 16th February 2023 with Civil Society, relevant government officials, the Kenya SUN CSA national team and CS-SUNN all present at the inaugural ceremony.
Successful advocacy for newly established County chapters:
The Kenya CSA and CS-SUNN teams paid advocacy visits to the County’s Government Offices to inform them of the establishment of SUN CSA Chapters in Nyamira and Kiambu counties and to seek the buy-in of top government officials to support the activities of the SUN CSA in the counties. The team got the commitment of the County Government to support all the activities of SUN CSA in Kenya.
Participants commended CS-SUNN’s interventions in the Kenya SUN CSA and expressed optimism that this will contribute to winning the war against malnutrition in Kenya. One of the participants, Sheila Maisiba, sub-county nutritionist, Ministry of Health said ‘Glad that SUN CSA is coming to support us fight malnutrition in our county, learnt a lot on policy formulation, advocacy. Great strides in vocalizing the importance of nutrition in the two counties. Kudos’.
‘It was a good opportunity to learn and understand some of the methodologies in advocacy, power mapping, and policy formulation process’ added Oliver Ogado, Director of Irrigation Services, Nyamira County Government. Also speaking, Lydiah, Field Representative, Yara East Africa said ‘I was able to get highlights on matters of nutrition, what SUN CSA does and Childfund as well is challenged to be a part of SUN CSA and help the organization in achieving its mission, especially in Nyamira. I am recommending the good work, the initiative is good and should be given enough resources (manpower and funds) in order for the organization to deliver as per its goals.
In the words of Jacob Keror, Director Crops, County Agriculture Department ‘I learnt about policy formulation process which is very important in my organization as we are mandated to come up with policies within the agriculture sector. I recommend strengthening the Nyamira chapter to enable it to achieve its mandates.
Maureene Ayodi, Director, of Smile Woman of Africa, a Community-Based Organization adds ‘that we are going to be very intentional with our interventions. We are going to craft activities that will rotate around the first 1000 days of the child’s life for I have learnt that those are the most important years of a child’s development. It was one of a kind. Even with the elections it was done in a very free and fair manner without influence from your organization. Kudos’
Field visits on grassroots Interventions:
Other highlights from the CS-SUNN TA support to Kenya saw the Kenya CSA National coordinator, lead the CS-SUNN team and others on a field visit to monitor some grassroots activities by community members that have contributed to improving the nutrition situation in the county. According to him, these initiatives are best practices that have been replicated in most of the counties in Kenya and ‘it has not only contributed to improving the nutrition situation but also addressed some of the basic causes of malnutrition’. The team visited the following sites:
- The Aqua-phonic, Hydro-phobic kitchen gardens in Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, NairobiHydrophobic farm at the Mama Lucy Hospital in Nairobi County.
- Korogocho slums to see reclaimed dump sites near Nairobi river used as relaxation centres and hydro-phonic farms by youth organizations rehabilitating former druggies and social workers.
- The Community Radio Station in Korogocho registered as a member of the Nairobi County chapter which offers slots for nutrition education and sensitization.
- The Poultry, Rabbit Farms and kitchen gardens at Viwandani slums on reclaimed dump sites.
- The poultry farm at the Viwandani Slum was established by a member of the SUN CSA.
The field visits also strengthened the capacity of the CSOs involved in kitchen gardens, hydrophilic and aqua phonic farms, and community radio stations by contributing to their strategies and contents.
The Kenya SUN CSA was established in 2012 but was operating sub-optimally before the collaboration and support of CS-SUNN were initiated. CS-SUNN – the Nigerian SUN CSA was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide Technical Support for Strengthening the SUN CSA in Kenya to spread its network to all Counties. This spread when achieved will enhance the understanding of the nutrition situation in Kenya and secure commitments from the government for more funding for nutrition and improved nutrition situation in Kenya.
Recall, CS-SUNN made her first entry into Kenya in 2022 and within this period, built the capacity of the Kenya SUN CSA at the national, leading to an increased membership of the alliance from 74 organization members to 108. The CSA was also able to acquire an independent office, open an account and started spreading from the central/national to establishing active chapters at county levels. The CSA also adopted the Nigeria SUN CSA (CS-SUNN) constitution and domesticated this for use in Kenya.