New national nutrition strategy and plan: the keys to a healthy and productive Basotho Nation

New national nutrition strategy and plan: the keys to a healthy and productive Basotho Nation

The cover page says it all. Lesotho is on the path to ‘kicking out hunger and malnutrition’ by working together across sectors and stakeholder groups from national to community level. Mindful that there will be bumps in the road and these efforts will require further capacity strengthening, including for effective coordination, the recent validation of the national Food and Nutrition Strategy and Costed Action Plan (2019-2023) among technical actors has brought renewed energy to the nutrition circle, which will help actors sprint to the finish line. The document is in the process of receiving the final government endorsements as per official protocols. 

Lesotho - Food and Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan

With the mission “To implement and scale-up proven and innovative multi-sectoral nutrition interventions” the document addresses the triple burdens of malnutrition, using a partnership-oriented approach under the realm of Agenda 2030. Key results areas encompass themes as diverse as maternal and child health, food value chains, WASH, social protection and gender as well as broader factors, such as the enabling environment. Actors – government, UN, civil society and other development partners – drew upon the data and visual outputs generated through the UNN tools to understand the scope, magnitude and distribution of the country’s nutrition challenges. One of these tools, the Multi-sectoral Nutrition Overview, was hailed as eye-opening to many working in the country and even appears as one of the suitcases loaded on the bus in the cover page. Similarly, the Nutrition Governance Capacity Assessment identified gaps and opportunities to bolster nutrition action, thereby informing the capacity development activities outlined in the plan (e.g. Cadre establishment for food and nutrition in the public service, establishment or strengthening of a National Food and Nutrition Advisory Team). Not only did these analytics help frame the strategy and planning workshop discussions, they also ensured that the document was tailored to the country context. 

The strategy and its corresponding action plan were elaborated through an extensive consultative process, led by the country’s Food and Nutrition Coordinating Office with close support from UNN-REACH. Consultations unfolded at the national, district and community levels, followed by participatory formulation and costing workshops. This approach was pivotal to securing buy-in and giving roots to successive action. The final strategy and plan come with a price tag of approximately USD 239 million over its five-year period. Findings from the Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping, concluded in early April 2019, will help actors prioritize these actions, giving particular consideration to those with low coverage.