UN Network for SUN - 2019 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

Rich with data, graphics and country case stories, this report shows how the UN Network has ramped  up its efforts in SUN countries to strengthen capacity and place nutrition at the center of sustainable development.

Foreword

“This has been a rewarding year in UNN history. Windows of opportunity, such as UN reform presented, enabling us to explore new frontiers and ways of working. Among these, were efforts to engage UNRCs in the nutrition arena and leverage their influence to promote collective action within the UN family. We were also able to reach additional countries to map intervention coverage across stakeholders and networks. This, in turn, is empowering MSPs to better coordinate nutrition actions across the multi-sectoral landscape and helping countries get a better grasp of what it will take to achieve results at scale.”

− Dr. Purnima Kashyap, UNN Director/Global Coordinator

1. Executive summary
1. Executive summary
Key messages

While the composition of the networks varied from country to country, the UN Network (UNN) is attracting new members to bolster collective action on nutrition. In some countries, the UN agencies are coming together through combined UN-Donor Networks or pre-existing platforms to advance the national nutrition agenda. Country UNNs were highly functional for the most part (90%), with the vast majority of them (93%) engaged in multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) and providing technical assistance (TA) to the SUN Government Focal Point (92%). In many cases, joint UN support is increasingly reaching sub-national areas and helping countries strengthen capacity to plan, review and coordinate nutrition actions. Expanded membership, action-oriented tools and increased engagement with United Nations Resident Coordinators (UNRCs) are some of the factors driving strong performance at the country level.

2. Background
2. Background
Key messages

Strong partnerships and effective coordination have a crucial role to play in delivering nutrition gains and the 2030 Agenda, underscoring the need for country-focused platforms such as the UNN. The UNN draws upon its popular portfolio of action-oriented tools to help diverse actors establish a common language, enrich nutrition advocacy, improve multi-stakeholder coordination as well as other aspects of nutrition governance. In 2018, the UNN underwent a strategic visioning exercise, whereby the functions of the REACH partnership were absorbed by the UNN’s Multi-sectoral Technical Assistance Facility. 

Today, the Network brings together all UN agencies with an interest in nutrition to consolidate know-how, better utilize resources, help UN entities speak with one voice and position the United Nations as an invaluable partner in this area.

3. Methodology
3. Methodology
Key messages

The 2019 UNN reporting exercise captured progress made from May 2018 to April 2019. Undertaken through online surveys and an offline case study template, the exercise involved UN colleagues working in SUN countries and regional offices. The country-level questionnaire included four domains: (1) UNN functionality applying a 10-indicator index; (2) inter-network collaboration; (3) joint UN efforts for nutrition capacity strengthening; as well as (4) the main achievements and challenges faced by country UNNs. 

The entities involved in a given country UNN were encouraged to discuss their responses as a group and ensure that they reflect the joint vision of the ‘Network’. Sixty countries participated in the exercise, constituting a record compliance rate of 100%. Data from secondary sources were used to supplement information, where applicable.

4. UNN functionality
4. UNN functionality
Key messages

An impressive, 90% of country UNNs were classified as being highly functional in 2019. On average, countries that had received UNN-REACH support, had slightly higher UNN functionality scores, suggesting that UNN-REACH is an effective mechanism for enhancing UNN performance. While the country-specific membership varied, a total of 16 UN agencies were engaged in the UNNs up from 12 in 2018. Irrespective of the set-up, all country UNNs inferred the presence of a joint nutrition workplan, strategy and/or agenda in 2019, thereby fostering increased collaboration. 

Joint planning often materialized in joint action, with 68% of the UNNs undertaking UN joint programming in the area of nutrition. In most countries, the UNN was engaged in MSPs (93%) and provided TA to the SUN Focal Point or other government authorities (92%) in 2019, illustrating how UNN support extends beyond the UN sphere.

5. Special feature: Celebrating Partnership
5. Special feature: Celebrating Partnership
Key messages

While inter-network collaboration is not captured in the UNN functionality index+, the UNN values partnership with the other SUN networks in the march towards increased nutrition impact. For this reason, a series of questions were included in the 2019 UNN reporting questionnaire to document how the Network was interacting with the other SUN networks on the ground. 

The data shows that many UNNs collaborated with other SUN networks at country level. Collaboration was particularly pronounced with the Civil Society Network (92% of countries). Many country UNNs (67%) also worked closely with other entities beyond the three main networks of the SUN Movement, such as Parliamentarian Networks. In several cases, these efforts supported the establishment or revitalization of other networks in the country.

6. UNN analytics
6. UNN analytics
Key messages

UNN analytics continue to be a means for enhancing UNN functionality and strengthening nutrition capacity at the country level. They have been described by users at country level as ‘powerful evidence-based instrument[s]’, useful for informing and guiding decision-making on nutrition at various levels. More than 80% of respondents in an impact assessment reported improved nutrition advocacy efforts, stemming from the use of UNN analytical tools. Five country UN Networks even cited the Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping and UN Nutrition Inventory as one of their top three achievements during the reporting period. Two countries (Burundi and Lesotho) undertook the UN Nutrition Inventory, inspiring additional UN agencies to join the UN Network.

7. Joint UN efforts for nutrition capacity strengthening
7. Joint UN efforts for nutrition capacity strengthening
Key messages

Overall, the results show that the UN is collectively investing considerable resources into strengthening nutrition capacity, starting with efforts to assess those needs. Many country UNNs (80%) supported the SUN Government Focal Point or other nutrition authorities by strengthening their skills, equipping them with tools, sharing technical guidance and coaching them (e.g. through UNN-REACH) to bring different stakeholders into a common space. From building capacities in data management to skills for generating common nutrition messaging, programme delivery and coordination, the UNN has a large footprint in the SUN Movement. 

Much of this support reached sub-national areas. Nearly 60% of the capacity assessments covered national and sub-national levels, while 90% of country UNNs supported the establishment/strengthening of MSPs on nutrition at both levels. Encouraging trends were also exhibited for strengthening nutrition capacity within the UN System, including the UNN’s increasing levels of engagement with UNRCs (70%).

8. Discussion
8. Discussion
Key messages

The 2019 UNN annual report reveals a number of positive trends, including an increase in the country UNNs with high functionality scores, from 85% in 2018 to 90% in 2019. These gains appear to have led to a rise in collaborative UN measures for nutrition capacity strengthening, targeting both government and UN colleagues. The reporting data also illustrated that these efforts are reaching sub-national areas in line with the SUN Movement’s interest in promoting decentralized action. 

Furthermore, the UNN analytics are continuing to help countries ‘get a grip’ on multi-sectoral nutrition action amid the complex nutrition landscape. The report also captures the UNN’s commitment to partnership, including with other SUN networks, in pursuit of shared results and recognizes the need to be flexible so that countries get the support they need. More efforts are required to strengthen capacity on the implementation of joint UN programming and the engagement of UNRCs as part of measures to help ensure that nutrition is a political priority and reach the UN Country Team’s full potential.

9. UNN Country Profiles
9. UNN Country Profiles
Key messages

This new feature of the UNN annual report highlights the country-specific membership, main achievements as well as other dynamics. The one-page profiles also discuss how the country UNNs are engaging in MSPs, supporting SUN Government Focal Points and collaborating with other SUN networks along the path to scale-up. Finally, forward-looking priorities are included, providing a glimpse of what lies ahead.

Click here to download specific country profiles of interest

10. Annexes A−D
Annex A.
UNN Functionality index+ results, by country
Annex B.
Menu of UNN analytical tools
Annex C.
Coverage of the UNN analytics (2009–2019)
Annex D.
Coverage of UNN-REACH support (2008–2019)