WFP Country Director, Wanja Kaaria, confirmed that “the first driver for UN agency collaboration was joint funding, but the SUN UN Network was an existing platform that we leveraged. Having a good working platform has allowed us to forge and strengthen that joint approach.”
“The PCR was designed to provide a holistic multi-sectoral programme for addressing FSN and [to do this] sustainably,” Wanja reported. “This meant covering all angles, from community engagement and support to smallholder farmers, and including safety net support for the most vulnerable. Different agencies covered various components – the programme was designed to allow for such synergies.”
Good coordination and regular communication between the UN partners proved essential, especially as each agency had different organizational structures and decision-making procedures. The UN Network served as a point of convergence. The three UN agencies involved in the PCR held monthly inter-agency meetings as Technical Working Groups (TWGs), as well as regular meetings with their government partners. UN agency joint activities included development of workplans through the TWGs; targeting of beneficiaries through joint screening; joint implementation; and joint supervision and monitoring of interventions. There was a project steering committee, chaired by the Ministry of Health or his delegate at ministerial level, to provide oversight, direction, and supervisory support to the programme. The integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM) technical working group quarterly meeting, supported by UNICEF, ensured effective coordination and knowledge sharing, and provided an opportunity to discuss progress and challenges in the treatment of acute malnutrition programme.
The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) under the office of the Vice President is the coordinating agency for the implementation of all nutrition programmes in the country. NaNA leads and coordinates the development and validation of nutrition education materials, and provided technical expertise in training health professionals on the management of SAM. Both NaNA and the Ministry of Health worked closely with UNICEF and WFP on developing IYCF practices, including community engagement on SBCC, in a process that reflects strong national ownership.
The Department of Agriculture (DoA) was in charge of implementing agriculture-related activities in the programme, including input distribution and technical training related to farmer field schools. Frontline DoA extension workers benefitted from training and are now able to carry out extension services on improved technological packages. The project also involved NGOs, notably Catholic Relief Services, Action Aid International in The Gambia (AAITG), and United Purpose in the operation and management of the Savings and Internal Lending Community initiatives, and The Gambia Red Cross Society took part in the lean season blanket supplementary feeding for the prevention of stunting. For a sustainable supply of micronutrition rich fortified foods, Gambia Horticultural Enterprise partnered with WFP for the local production of fortified blended cereals.