The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Nutrition Secretariat and the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG), in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and with technical support from the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) and the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), undertook the 2-year DNCC Initiative (2014–2016) to strengthen the capacity of Uganda’s district nutrition coordination committees (DNCCs) to support nutrition governance and multi-sectoral nutrition interventions. The DNCC Initiative, had three main objectives:
The DNCC Initiative focused on 10 districts in the southwest (Kamwenge, Kasese, Kisoro, Ntungamo, and Sheema) and north (Amuru, Dokolo, Lira, Masindi, and Oyam).
The DNCC Initiative used the multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP) approach to bring together Uganda’s diverse group of multi-sectoral stakeholders from across all levels of government.
A key outcome of the DNCC Initiative was the development of an approach to strengthen multi-sectoral nutrition governance at the local government level. The approach consists of five key components: consensus building, advocacy, capacity strengthening, monitoring and reporting, and experience sharing. These components should be applied while keeping in mind two cross-cutting aspects. First, the components are intended to be applied during continuous implementation of nutrition programmes using existing government systems to avoid the creation of parallel structures. This ensures that government systems are being strengthened as nutrition is integrated. Second, maintaining effective communication throughout the entire process improves stakeholder coordination and promotes continuous learning. The five components of the approach are described in more detail below.
Consensus-building to agree on a common vision, objectives, and expectations: The consensus-building process helps stakeholders agree on and define the problem to be addressed, clarifying expectations about stakeholder partnerships, and addressing conflicts that may arise due to differing views and competing priorities. Providing forums for open discussion and orienting nutrition stakeholders on the roles and responsibilities of nutrition governance help to ensure joint understanding and ownership of the process. A key activity that supports consensus-building is to orient nutrition coordination committees (NCCs) and their stakeholders on national level policies and frameworks, as well as NCC roles and responsibilities. This opens the dialogue about how to initiate multi-sectoral nutrition activities in local governments.
Advocacy to encourage prioritization of nutrition and mobilization of resources: Effective advocacy helps community members and political, technical, and traditional leadership appreciate and prioritize nutrition. NCC members need advocacy skills to help them secure this buy-in, lobby for the approval of multi-sectoral nutrition action plans by councils, and secure funding for planned activities. An important activity that helps NCCs to take on this advocacy role is holding a local government-level advocacy planning workshop to develop an advocacy plan and talking points for key audiences.
Capacity strengthening to improve systems for governance and service delivery: Two main areas of capacity strengthening are required: (1) nutrition governance capacity strengthening, through training on planning, budgeting, monitoring, and reporting; advocacy; and consensus building; and (2) department-specific trainings to strengthen nutrition capacity and technical skills. Governance training targets all NCC members, whereas department-specific trainings target local government technical staff, such as health workers, agriculture extension workers, and community development officers, to ensure that they have the necessary skills to integrate nutrition into their regular responsibilities.
Monitoring and reporting to promote increased accountability and adaptation: A strong monitoring and reporting system facilitates learning, creates linkages between bottom-up and top-down structures, and generates accountability. A well-functioning monitoring and reporting system ensures that NCC can respond to the dynamic settings in which they work, adapting strategies and activities or seeking support as needed to ensure targets are met and results are achieved. An important activity in this area is joint support supervision visits. These visits should include both national and local level governments and stakeholders. During these visits, fulfilment of roles and responsibilities can be tracked, problems can be identified, and support actions can be planned.
Experience sharing to document and share best practices to inform programming: Through sharing district experiences, promising practices, and challenges faced in other districts, stakeholders learn how to deal with challenges and conflicts. Additionally, national level stakeholders learn from local government experiences, which encourages institutional changes that are responsive to local needs, such as developing national policies, guidelines, and strategies to facilitate improvements in local government processes.
To learn more about the experience and lessons learned during the DNCC Initiative and how to implement the approach to strengthen nutrition governance, explore the documents below. For more information on the MSP approach visit www.mspguide.org.