August 29, 2019
By Emmanuel Aiah Senessie
SUN Secretariat and partners have started popularizing in the districts the Multi-Sector Strategic Plan to Reduce Malnutrition in Sierra Leone, after the launching by the Vice President in Freetown on 27th June this year. The MSP is a revised version of the Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan that was developed by the Government of Sierra Leone and the nutrition partners for five years (2013-2017). One of the recommendations by the international consultant was that the revised document should be popularized in all the districts, unlike the Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan before it, since most of the nutrition vulnerable people live in the districts.
The MSP was launched in Freetown after two validation workshops. At the launching ceremony it was decided by the Government and partners that the revised document should be popularized in the 15 districts so that the implementing partners will know and understand its contents in order to use it in their work from 2019 to 2025. Another purpose of the popularization in the districts was to give the nutrition stakeholders the opportunity to take ownership of the document and disseminate the messages in it to all the chiefdoms and villages.
The First Phase of popularizing the MSP started on Monday 19th August in Matru Jong and ended in Port Loko on Monday 26th August. Two other districts covered within this period were Bo and Kambia.
In all the districts where the popularization took place, 43 participants were invited from various sectors like the district council, District Health Management Team (DHMT), the District Nutritionist, the District Director of Agriculture, representatives from Water Resources, Education, Women in Agriculture, the paramount chiefs, farmers associations and members of civil society.
The programme involved Purpose of the Popularisation, which was done by the SUN National Coordinator Madam Nenebah Jalloh, an Overview of the MSP by the SUN technical Officer Mrs. Bernadette Allieu, who stated that the MSP was a Strategy to reduce stunting and other symptoms of malnutrition by 2030. This was followed Statements from Mr Abu Daffae the Human Resource and Governance Officer in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr. Justin Kenja from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the REACH Facilitator Dr. Sulaiman Sowe.
The highpoint of the popularisation was the launching of the MSP by a prominent citizen in the district, such as the Disease and Nutrition Surveillance Officer in Bonthe (Mattru Jong); The District Medical Officer in Bo; The District Medical Officer in Kambia and the Resident Minister for North West Region in Port Loko.
When the MSP was launched in Freetown, not everybody was present so it was necessary that some important strategy be found by which the messages could be cascaded to the chiefdoms and villages.
While giving their reactions and responses, the people said that SUN Secretariat and partners had taken the right decision to popularize the MSP in the districts since the business of nutrition is everybody’s business.
The women especially said they were happy to hear that exclusive breast-feeding was emphasised and that they should prioritise children in the distribution of food. This in the long run would help break the generational circle of poverty in the country.
The Second and Third Phases of Popularising the MSP will be done in September 2019 and will cover the reaining11 districts.
Emmanuel Aiah Senessie is the Documentation and Communications Officer, SUN Secretariat, Office of the Vice President