Togo turns to UN Network for sub-national mapping to advance the national nutrition agenda

Togo turns to UN Network for sub-national mapping to advance the national nutrition agenda

Togo recently joined the growing list of countries, who have voiced interest in undertaking a multi-sectoral mapping exercise to reinforce government efforts to accelerate the scale up of nutrition actions. The country is grappling with multiple burdens of malnutrition and marked regional disparities. On average 28% of under5s are stunted although the figure is as high as 43% in Savanes, the country’s most impoverished region (2018 Global Nutrition Report and 2013 ESTIII).  If unaddressed during the critical window between conception and a child’s second birthday, stunting can lead to irreversible brain damage and impaired physical growth, already draining Togo’s economy. Considering that stunting levels are ‘very high’ according to international standards in multiple regions and that little progress has been made since 2006, this situation alone is reason for concern. The Global Nutrition Report also indicates that over one-third of adult women are overweight and nearly half of women of childbearing age are anaemic, both elevating risks for health complications such as pre-term delivery or type 2 diabetes (2018 Global Nutrition Report). Despite these issues and having joined the SUN Movement in 2014, nutrition actors in-country describe the nutrition scene as being in “an embryonic stage” and are actively looking to change this.

In comes the UN Network. When members of the national Multi-sectoral Nutrition Platform convened in late February, they learned about the Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping tool. Representatives from the UN Network Secretariat presented the tool, including how mapping findings have been used by other countries in the region. Members of the platform, comprised of relevant ministries, UN agencies, local NGOs, universities, donors and the private sector, discussed the benefits and feasibility of undertaking the exercise in Togo. Motivated by the Mali and Senegal experiences, they saw the mapping as a means to operationalize the newly approved National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Plan and to develop its M&E plan. This will enable them to identify priority actions and guide budgetary allocations in order to deliver them at scale. Ms. Djigbodi Patience Aglobo, Director of Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry of Planning and Development, noted that “such an exercise will also inform ministerial decisions regarding the type of actions to be taken and the target population. Ultimately, this contributes to better governance and good programming and guidance for the effective implementation of the National Development Plan, especially in its third axis related to strengthening social development and inclusion mechanisms.” In addition, the members of the multi-stakeholder platform recognized the potential of the mapping to be used in advocacy activities to help attract increased investments in nutrition, understanding that it would identify actions that required increased attention, such as those with low coverage.

Togo mapping scoping mission

With consensus that the mapping was the way forward, the Multi-sectoral Nutrition Platform provided preliminary approval to launch the exercise in Togo. The exercise will be supported by the UN Network Secretariat, who is now working with the platform to support various preparations. Recognizing the high return on investment, different actors are already working to mobilize resources to support the mapping. Some details, such as the customization of the tool mainly which nutrition actions to map, will be determined in the subsequent phase. Similarly, the country mapping team will also determine whether to undertake the mapping exercise at the national, regional and potentially other sub-national levels in an effort to stimulate further sub-national action. The members of the platform are eager to proceed and keen to reflect a mix of actions that address the country’s multiple burdens of malnutrition.         

Read more in a related article published by the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Togo

Photo credit: UNIC/Nadietou Zibilila