There is a growing awareness among the nutrition community of the specific vulnerabilities facing the adolescent (1119 years old) population. Adolescent girls who are exposed to early marriage, pregnancy and childbirth are a particular group of concern and it is not surprising to see greater attention is now turning to nutrition interventions and related approaches that target this group to improve their nutritional status, prevent early marriage, pregnancy and childbirth. A report on Adolescent Nutrition highlights the policy and programming efforts underway in Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement countries to ensure a focus on 'the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition'. This issue of Nutrition Exchange highlights the approaches and progress in two Asian countries, Nepal and Afghanistan, and in the SUN Civil Society Alliance Youth Leaders' global initiative.
Nepal is one of the leading countries to have begun building integrated approaches to adolescent nutrition across sectors. In support of these government efforts, the well known Suaahara ('good nutrition') II Programme has designed and is rolling out a schoolbased intervention that encompasses adolescent health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene. In Afghanistan a weekly iron and folic acid supplementation programme is targeting schoolgoing adolescent girls to reduce high levels of anaemia. This intervention is a collaboration between the ministries of education and health and harnesses schools as a platform through which to reach this age group. However, as the authors point out, attention is now needed on the much harder to reach outofschool population, comprising an estimated 2.2 million adolescent girls in Afghanistan.
One of the issues raised in the Adolescent Nutrition report is the lack of consultation with young people themselves about the extent to which nutrition services are currently serving them, or how those services could be better designed to meet their needs. The SUN CSA Youth Leaders for Nutrition initiative seeks to remedy this situation. A NEX interview with two prominent youth leaders young women from Madagascar and Kenya explores the topics of direct interest to this age group, including adolescent nutrition and its links with child marriage. Both countries have high rates of child marriage and the Youth Leaders are active in their communities to raise awareness of the intergenerational effects of having children too young and the increased risk of malnutrition. The interview highlights how their work encompasses nutrition, health and sex education to empower adolescent girls.
Civil society also plays a key role in broader advocacy, as highlighted in an article from Senegal. Here, in the buildup to the presidential elections, nutrition commitments have been made and it is up to civil society and other stakeholders to hold government to account for these promises, particularly regarding financial targets.
One way of understanding the extent to which governments are on track to realising their commitments and pledges is through nationallevel nutrition budget analysis. While this is a notoriously challenging area to navigate, an article from the West Africa region describes a pilot study in seven countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, CAte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania and Togo) designed to overcome difficulties in identifying nutritionrelevant budget lines and overcome the discrepancies inherent in categorising budgetline items.
This issue features the latest ENN case studies on largescale, multisector nutrition programming, sharing insights from the most recent studies in Ethiopia, Niger and Bangladesh. As with previous case studies, these focus on the subnational level to understand how programmes are being implemented. Although it is difficult to generalise findings from such different contexts, the article summarises similarities between countries, particularly in terms of the challenges being faced.
Against the backdrop of growing attention being given to the potential of multisector nutrition programmes to reduce malnutrition, we are reminded through the Global Report on Food Crises (featured in this issue's Global Themes) that conflict and insecurity, climate shocks and economic turbulence are major drivers of the acute food insecurity facing an estimated 113 million people. Another fragile part of the world in the Middle East is Gaza which, for the first time in NEX, has shared how it is strengthening postnatal care and maternal and newborn nutrition in such a challenging context.
Finally (and also for the first time), we feature an article from Sri Lanka highlighting a government and NGO approach to developing healthy food canteens run by women, providing livelihood support alongside promoting indigenous foods. Sri Lanka is not alone in dealing with the rise of overweight/obesity and nutritionrelated chronic diseases, and we expect to feature more learning in future issues of NEX on the different initiatives countries are adopting to tackle malnutrition in all its forms.
We hope that you enjoy reading NEX issue 12 and feel inspired to share your country experiences with us for future publication
Source: Emergency Nutrition Network