Institutional arrangements (1/3)
Setting up a NIPN is a collaborative process. The time necessary for consultation and consensus building should not be underestimated: it is important to take sufficient time to hold meetings, formulate and adapt the description of the approach, and establish a shared vision between the multiple institutions involved. When country processes are participatory and thorough, the final set-up is more likely to have the full buy-in and commitment of all stakeholders. This process may require external facilitation and resourcing.
The idea behind the NIPN is not to create a new organization, but to embed the various NIPN functions within existing organizations while strengthening their capacity to fulfil these functions. While acknowledging that there are many time and capacity restraints, it is recommended that staff of the NIPN host organizations are enabled to take on NIPN tasks as part of their normal way of working, and the number of staff hired on the project budget should be limited (this section/n°8).
The NIPN core structure relies on two components: (1) a policy component and (2) a data component. Both of them play key roles in implementing the NIPN operational cycle as presented in the introduction:
- Formulating nutrition policy question for analysis based on government priorities;
- Managing and analysing data to inform the questions;
- Communicating and disseminating the findings to policy makers.
The policy and data components of a NIPN are supported by a Multisectoral Advisory Committee (MAC), which at country level may be called a ‘Steering Committee’ or ‘Policy Advisory Committee’ (section 1.2).
Multiple organizations with different strengths may thus be involved in NIPN and suitable institutional arrangements need to be put in place to ensure effective and efficient collaboration. A careful choice of institutions is key to reduce the risk of competition or lack of coordination.
Formalising the institutional arrangements which are adopted for the NIPN (for example in a contract or a Memorandum of Understanding) will help to clearly define roles, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms, and as such avoid a lack of coordination and the duplication of efforts.
Other stakeholders, such as sectoral ministries, academic institutions or international organizations, including SUN networks, will provide support in the sub-steps of the NIPN operational cycle to ensure policy relevance of the questions and to contribute to data analyses and capacity development of NIPN actors.