NIPN Side event at FAO/IFPRI Bangkok conference

On November 28 during the IFPRI-FAO conference on Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition in Bangkok, NIPN organised a successful side-event, gathering a hundred of participants, to discuss the Strategic Opportunities and Institutional Challenges of NIPN.

The aim of a National Information Platform for Nutrition is to create a data-driven multisectoral nutrition policy dialogue between policy makers and data-analysts in order to make better policy, programme and investment decisions. Through this dialogue, sectoral experts will formulate smart policy questions which will be answered through the analysis of existing (sub-)national data and fed in to the discussion and decisions required.

The panel will be chaired by Dr. Marti J. van Liere, Team Lead of the NIPN Global Support Facility (download intro slides), with the participation of:

  • Mrs. Madeleine Onclin, Head of Nutrition, Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition Unit, DG International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
  • Dr. Sitthiroth Rasphone, Acting Director General, Centre for Development Policy Research, Ministry of Planning and Investment of the Lao Popular Democratic Republic
  • Dr. Tsigereda Kifle Wolde, Deputy Director General, Ethiopian Public Health Institute
  • Dr. David L. Pelletier, Professor, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University (download slides)

Challenges put forward by both panellists and the audience related to:

  • How to engage and create buy-in amongst policy makers of different sectors at national as well as subnational level – eg. Ethiopia is implementing an extensive communication strategy to this end
  • How to bring different information systems together and coordinate analyses – NIPN countries such as Laos are looking into the creation of a central data repository
  • The need to develop capacity at all levels in this new approach – this will need to be tackled in a combined effort with capacity building efforts by a global support team and technical assistance present at national level
  • How to overcome the complexity of the diverse set of challenges and working with many structures at the same time? Key actors could leverage informal networks, sharing and brokering knowledge, forging relationships and this accelerating progress
  • Data quality is often poor due to multiple factors and requires strict assessment at country level which data can be used, and what are their limitations.
  • How to operationalize and make the role of multisectoral committees more simple? One way could be by defining concrete tasks and jobs-to-be-done for a multisectoral nutrition committee and clarifying not only how they contribute to better nutrition, but also how nutrition contributes to their objectives and targets.
  • What are the opportunities of new technology / social media for NIPN? Countries are already making use of new technologies in data collection; social media may contribute to transparency and accountability.

Important points which were mentioned are country ownership, as demonstrated by both Ethiopia and Laos, embedding the NIPN approach in the existing multisectoral nutrition coordination system, clarity on the use of existing data, the active role of certain nutrition actors in knowledge brokering and collaboration forging.

More information on the speakers

Mrs. Madeleine Onclin has been assigned the responsibility of Head of Sector Nutrition at the European Commission headquarters since September 2017. A veterinary surgeon by training, she has been involved during 11 years in the fight against animal diseases in Belgium, before creating the non-profit organisation VSF (Vétérinaires Sans Frontières) Belgium as part of the VSF European network. Madeleine Onclin was VSF-Belgium CEO for 15 years, becoming involved in sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. She joined the European Commission in 2009 and spent 8 years in Delegations (3 years in Chad, 3 years in Guinea-Bissau and 2 years in Honduras).

Dr. Sitthiroth Rasphone is the Acting Director General of the Centre for Development Policy Research of the Ministry of Planning and Investment of the Lao PDR. He holds a Ph.D. in Development Economics from the Australian National University. He has been with the Ministry of Planning and Investment since 2000 as an economic researcher. He has been involved in formulating and monitoring national socio-economic development especially in the areas of macroeconomic analysis, poverty analysis and impact evaluation of social investment programs (in the Education and Health sectors). His research interests focus on fiscal policy; poverty and agricultural development; child budget analysis; child poverty; and the impact of public investment related to education and health on well-being.

Dr. Tsigereda Kifle Wolde has been the Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Public Heath Institute (EPHI) since 2016. She is a medical doctor by training and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. Before joining EPHI, she has worked for more than 25 years as a health specialist in the Dire Dawa region in Ethiopia, first as the Director for the Department of disease prevention & control at the Regional Health Bureau, then as a Project Officer with a INGO, then as the Head of the Regional Health Bureau for 14 years and finally as the Director of the ICAP Regional Office providing technical assistance to the Regional Health Bureau.

Dr. David L. Pelletier is Professor at Cornell University, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. His interests relate to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of nutrition policy, primarily in low and middle income countries. He approaches this work from a transdisciplinary, engaged and problem-oriented perspective, in which the key research questions and choice of methods emerges in the course of engaging with policy and program actors at global, national or sub-national levels. This approach is guided by robust theoretical frameworks and ensures that the research is responsive to real-world concerns and more likely to be understood, valued and used by those responsible for policies and programs.

Dr. Marti J. Van Liere is Team Leader of the NIPN Global Support Facility, responsible for strategic guidance, communication and partnerships. She has 30 years of international experience and a proven track record in nutrition and development, in non-for-profit and private sectors, as well as in research. Before joining the NIPN Global Support Facility, she held positions at GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), Unilever, KIT (Dutch Royal Tropical Institute) and INSERM (French Medical Research Institute). She has a PhD in Human Nutrition from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. In 2012 and 2013, she served as the co-chair of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network.