Common Nutrition Narrative launched in DRC, stimulating momentum among actors in-country

Common Nutrition Narrative launched in DRC, stimulating momentum among actors in-country

Stunting levels exceed the critical threshold in the vast majority of DRC’s 26 provinces, where they have virtually stagnated for the last 12 years. Likewise, elevated wasting levels challenge the country and have persisted in recent years. On 30 October 2017, a range of stakeholders gathered in Kinshasa to launch a common nutrition narrative (Vaincre la malnutrition chez les femmes et enfants de moins de cinq ans en République Démocratique du Congo), both giving impetus to and helping to further align efforts that are addressing malnutrition in the country. The Minister of Public Health presided over the event, which was attended by public figures, including Members of the Cabinet, Directors and Secretary Generals of the Public Administration, senators and parliamentarians as well as representatives of the international development community. The United Nations agencies engaged in DRC’s UN Network for SUN (FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO) were present, affirming their commitment to the narrative and to scaling-up nutrition action. In addition to the UN Network, the engagement of the SUN Donor Network was instrumental in releasing the narrative.

DRC Narrative Full Resized

During the event, actors shared experiences and pledged their commitment to working better together on a united front. Journalists interviewed key figures at the end of the event such as the Minister of Public Health, the Representative of UNICEF, who chairs the UN Network in-country, the Head of the DRC World Bank Office, and others. The interviewees underscored key aspects of the Common Narrative, speaking to the consequences (economic and social) of malnutrition and positioning the included actions as being concrete measures for achieving the SDGs.

The common narrative is an important step forward that was in part set into motion by other recent activities supported by the UN Network. These include the completion of the UN Nutrition Inventory (initiated in mid-2016), whereby the UN Network took stock of the actions it is supporting on nutrition, by agency. The findings from the Inventory helped to bring into focus: (1) the need to coordinate UN nutrition actions, particularly in specific thematic areas and provinces, where multiple UN agencies are operating; and (2) opportunities to revisit targeting schemes to ensure those most in need are being reached. Warranting further strategic reflection and follow-up, these prospects were explored during a UN nutrition retreat in October 2016, facilitated by the UN Network for SUN Secretariat. Those discussions have in turn contributed to shaping the content of the common narrative, which essentially serves as road map to help actors reverse the current trends of stagnation.