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Activity A: Validation of the final priority list of questions by the MAC

In each of the three previous steps to formulate policy questions, criteria were applied to define the priority ranking of the questions. This final fourth step is important for formalising the decision on the priority ranking of questions and notably those questions which will be addressed/answered by NIPN analysis.
Furthermore, transparent communication about this decision to the NIPN stakeholders that have been directly involved in the various steps is crucial. These stakeholders are, for the most part, the ultimate audience to whom the findings of the analyses will be communicated for further action.

At the same time, a number of the relevant and important questions which have been formulated will not be eligible for analysis by NIPN. These should be part of a ‘Question Bank’ to be constituted (see text box below). The MAC may request other nutrition actors to take on the task of answering some of these questions, though it must be expected that certain questions will not be answered. For instance, the MAC may ask one of the members of the SUN CSO network to carry out a literature study to collate global evidence on a specific topic (e.g. the effectiveness of MNP distribution) or it may request a research institute to study the impact of specific nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions on the dietary diversity of women.

It is recommended that each step and decision is documented in a transparent manner, which will also help to manage the various stakeholders’ expectations:

  • Prepare the final list of policy questions which have been formulated over the three steps of the exercise, in order of priority ranking, with the questions for analysis by NIPN at the top, followed by the questions which can be answered by other actors, etc. Provide the data analysis framework for the priority questions that NIPN will answer.
  • Request that the MAC validates this list of questions in an official meeting, with a formal sign-off. This validation is also important for obtaining approval for sharing data from data owners.
  • The MAC will communicate their decision formally to all NIPN stakeholders, including a tentative timeline for the analysis of the priority questions.
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Maintain a "bank of questions" over time
It is recommended that a ‘Question Bank’ is maintained over time - this is a list of all questions which have been formulated by stakeholders, ranked according to the prioritisation criteria. In this way, the NIPN team keeps track of all questions, their feasibility and how they have been managed or analysed.
The ranking of the questions constitutes the basis for dialogue with the NIPN stakeholders, in particular through the MAC. Questions will be ranked according to their priority: meaning that the priority questions which can be answered by NIPN come first, followed by the important questions which cannot be answered by NIPN but which could be passed on to other actors to be answered (e.g. by doing a literature review or collecting new data), and finally the questions which are considered to be of a lower priority, and will not be the focus of NIPN or another actor’s analysis.
Transparent ranking of the questions in a ‘Question Bank’ will help to manage the expectations of a diverse set of stakeholders and contributes to a common understanding of what NIPN can and will do.