Zimbabwe is the first country to use the web-based version of the REACH mapping tool; Exercise catalyses strategic reflection and district-level action

Zimbabwe is the first country to use the web-based version of the REACH mapping tool; Exercise catalyses strategic reflection and district-level action

A participatory stakeholder and nutrition action mapping exercise was recently rolled out in Zimbabwe under the leadership of the Food and Nutrition Council (FNC). The exercise is engaging a range of stakeholders at the national and districts levels as part of greater efforts to promote cohesive multi-sectoral nutrition governance and action. REACH colleagues are working closely with the FNC, including the SUN Focal Point and a designated country mapping team. The team is comprised of FNC staff, the Zimbabwe REACH Facilitator and a national REACH consultant, the latter serving as the technical lead. Using the REACH web-based tool, a subset of core nutrition actions is being mapped, by stakeholder. The tool also enables the calculation of aggregated population and geographic coverage data, a key output requested by the country.

A training workshop, held in Mutare on 13-15 November 2017, equipped 50 participants from nineteen districts with the skills required to undertake the mapping in their districts. Other participants included technical officers working at the national level from the FNC, the Ministries of Health and Child Care, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, the national bureau of statistics (ZIMSTAT), UN Network for SUN focal points and other development partners (e.g. Plan International, World Vision International). Participation of national level, senior government officials, including from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, and chairs of district food and nutrition security committees has helped secure their buy-in and instil ownership in the mapping exercise. Some of these officials have even travelled to sites to witness how the data was being collected.

Zim Mapping Workshop

While the mapping exercise is ongoing, early mapping activities have already yielded positive returns. The active participation of district food and nutrition committees in the training, and the overall mapping exercise, has helped to increase stakeholder awareness about existing nutrition data in the selected districts, data gaps as well as those actions that are actually being undertaken in loco. This, in turn, has prompted efforts to strengthen existing information systems and data flows between national and sub-national levels. The mapping exercise has also served as an opportunity to validate the selection of core nutrition actions for which coverage is being measured. 

Similarly, the country is conducting a national nutrition survey that will shed additional light on the nutrition situation at the district level. The findings from the mapping exercise are expected to play an important role in the interpretation of the survey results, and more importantly, to guide the recommended actions to address the identified challenges– at least in the nineteen districts, which undertook the mapping. In the meantime, the quality of the mapping data is being verified by the country mapping team, particularly to avoid ‘double-counting’ in preparation for the data analysis phase. These results will be validated at a workshop in March prior to being disseminating more widely.