Use of Mentoring Relationships to Build Capacity for Multisectoral Nutrition Systems

What is the Issue?

Fifty-four countries are taking part in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, and are putting plans and strategies in place to use a multisectoral approach to reduce chronic malnutrition. Much attention in SUN has been dedicated to raising awareness, obtaining commitments, and coordinating stakeholders at the global and national levels. Although multisectoral nutrition policies continue to roll out, there is little information to date on how it is functioning below the regional level and how it is impacting communities.

SUN countriesTanzania has become one of the leading nations within the SUN MOVEMENT with a strong, progressive National Nutrition Strategy and growing commitment to nutrition across nine key ministries. In order to continue to raise the profile of nutrition and improve nutrition outcomes, it is paramount to support the newly created position of the District Nutrition Officer (DNuO) and ensure that the current scopes of practice, supervisory and reporting structures, technical capacities, and relationships among district officers and diverse cadres are aligned in strong and efficient ways to meet nutrition goals.

What do we aim to achieve?

Cornell researchers have partnered with representatives from five leading Tanzanian institutions and have jointly developed a strong action plan during a 2-week Collaborative Nutrition Workshop held at Cornell in Oct 2015.

Overall this project aims to increase knowledge at the district level in optimal approaches for:

 (1) Involving multiple sectors in addressing nutrition priorities; (2) Coordinating nutrition programming among the various sectors; and (3) Increasing the capacity to deliver effective nutrition interventions at the district and community levels.

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(From left) Haikael Martin, Mary Mosha, Sia Msuya and Clara Mollay discuss how to build capacity for District Nutrition Officers in Tanzania

This team will build and support the Tanzanian nutrition system in two rural districts, advocating for multisectoral action by establishing and supporting beneficial relationships between academic institutions, district officers, and natural community leaders.  To do this, we will:

  • Strengthen the capacity of the District Nutrition Officer (DNuO) to teach, support and advocate for nutrition activities within the district.
  • Collaboratively identify key areas to strengthen to increase nutrition capacity including the promotion of community-driven and community-led interventions.
  • Mentor the DNuO to identify key strengths and weaknesses and come up with tailored plans to capitalize on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

Experts from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCo), Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), and the Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) are structuring mentorship teams to be embedded in these 2 rural districts, and are systematically documenting their actions and outcomes, as a basis for recommending larger scale support to the local nutrition system throughout Tanzania.