The nutrition statistics for Chad are daunting. According to the 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, child stunting in Chad (39.9%) is climbing, well exceeding the new ‘very high’ population threshold (30%) being used by WHO and UNICEF. In some pockets of country, the prevalence of stunting exceeds 50%. The exclusive breastfeeding rate, one of the most effective nutrition actions, has fallen to a dismal 0.1%. While overweight and obesity levels are low, a slight increase was reported in the prevalence of adult obesity further complicating the situation. How is this possible given the attention the Government of Chad has devoted to nutrition in recent years and the myriad of external assistance it has received?
The country’s high exposure to climate extremes as well as conflict are contributing to the high levels of malnutrition (SOFI 2018). These shocks undermine ongoing efforts to improve food security, care practices, access to health services and safe water as well as the sanitation environment. A nutrition capacity assessment, supported by the UN [Nutrition] Network’s (UNN) intensive service REACH, sheds additional light. In many ways, the capacity assessment exercise reflects the crescendo of efforts to address the country’s malnutrition situation to improve nutrition governance and animate a multi-sectoral approach that addresses the causes of malnutrition at all levels.
The assessment unfolded over a three-month period, enabling the consultants to speak with several participants. The REACH Facilitator played an integral role, advocating for the study, which was covered by REACH funding. The idea was initially pitched to the UN Network focal points and the SUN Focal Point, who were actively engaged throughout the process and to ensure engagement across sectors. In addition, the UNN Secretariat supported the Facilitator by imparting learning from similar assessments in other countries (e.g. Burkina Faso, Lesotho and Senegal).
Taking the form of a qualitative study, information was gathered through a desk review, key informant interviews and focus groups with representatives from government and the respective SUN networks, including the UN Network. The assessment team measured capacities in four strategic areas: 1) the integration of nutrition into four main sectors; 2) enabling environment; 3) capacity building; and 4) advocacy, communications, data and networking. It also took into account the eleven pillars of the National Food and Nutrition Policy, 2014 - 2025 (Politique Nationale de Nutrition et d’Alimentation or PNNA), understanding that they constitute the functions of the CTPNA, and thus should be part and parcel of the assessment.