As RC, I am also representing the UN in different coordination mechanisms, for example co-chairing the quarterly Development Partners Coordination Group (DPCG) meeting and the annual Development Partner Retreat, where Government and Development Partners meet to discuss important matters, including nutrition, related to the development of Rwanda. To these discussions, I bring the UN perspective, but also the perspectives emerging from discussions in the DP Group via a monthly DP meeting.
- How has the SDG framework and a wider nutrition understanding helped to galvanize UN collective action?
The Government of Rwanda has long considered improving nutrition as a top priority. Nutrition is also linked to human capital building, which is key for the country to achieve its development goals. The SDG framework, as I mentioned before, has stressed the importance of applying a multi-sectoral approach that cuts across other goals. At least 12 of the 17 goals, as well as SDG2, contain indicators that are highly relevant to nutrition. In the country we have various sectoral policies and strategies that are aligned with the SDGs and these make a good entry point for UN action in advancing nutrition. Awareness-raising on the Agenda 2030 is also helping to promote sustainable development in line with the Government’s 2050 Vision to improve living standards.
The SDGs promote a collective agenda and you can’t see any single UN agency being the sole custodian of any SDG – this feeds into the joint process of creating the agencies’ Country Programme Documents and a conducive environment for working together. The current situation with COVID-19 has taken a toll on what we are doing, but it has also presented an opportunity to further strengthen the collective elements around supporting relevant action on the Government’s development plans, where nutrition is one aspect.
- Can you tell us more about how COVID-19 is affecting UN joint action for nutrition in Rwanda?
The UN has now finalized its Joint Programme (JP) against COVID-19, which was an opportunity for the United Nations to help shape the Government's economic recovery plan. The JP includes a big component on agriculture, food security and nutrition, as well as on social protection. Even within the Development Partners Group, we’ve made sure that nutrition was part of the four sub-groups that have been established to support the fight against COVID-19, especially in the subgroup for social protection and vulnerable people, a DP sub-group co-led by UNICEF and DFID, as well as the subgroup for the food security, agriculture and nutrition, led by FAO, WFP and the EU.
These new platforms and the joint work taking place within them have helped us to broaden the stakeholders’ involved. Through the UN Joint Assessment on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, some messages and policy recommendations have been shared with the Government and national stakeholders, including on food security and nutrition. The UN Network has also supported the Rapid Analysis data collection to help provide the Government with the right data in order to better handle their food distribution during the pandemic.
The Policy Brief from the SUN secretariat on COVID-19 and nutrition showed us some of the ways that COVID-19 has negatively impacted Rwanda, for example, access to school feeding which has been negatively affected by school closures and also the closure of the Early Childhood Development centres [part of the National ECD Programme], places where young children normally have access to food at the community level. However, the Rwandan community approach for nutrition is helping the country in the fight against malnutrition.