Guidance Note for UN Humanitarian Coordinators: Integrated multi-sectoral nutrition actions

Categories: Inter-Cluster News / News / SAG news / No CommentsPosted on: August 18, 2017


Dear Cluster/Sector Coordination teams and Partners:

The advocacy document below was issued by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien and developed jointly with SUN Secretariat, UN agencies and led by the Global Nutrition with contribution from partners.  Download the UN HC Guidance Note here (339 downloads)

GNC Coordination Team


Dear Humanitarian Coordinators,

There is a growing recognition that addressing malnutrition is a collective responsibility that requires strategic and operational leadership at a multi-sector level – thus my message to you.  As leaders of the 2017-2018 Humanitarian Response Planning (HRP) process, you play a critical role in ensuring that nutrition is a strategic outcome in response plans, and making sure that coordination is geared toward supporting multi-sectoral approaches to nutrition.  To support you in your leadership in this regard, the attached Guidance Note for UN Humanitarian Coordinators: Integrated multi-sectoral nutrition actions to achieve global and national nutrition-related SDG targets, particularly in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS), has been prepared. The paper defines malnutrition, explains why addressing malnutrition is life-saving in emergencies and calls for a multi-sector approach, and it gives an overview of common interventions and terminology.

Good nutrition is not only the foundation of human health and wellbeing but is also considered a powerful driver of sustainable development.  If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition (Goal 2), malnutrition needs to be addressed in all its forms, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity.

As evidenced today, more than ever before, malnutrition is rampant in emergency situations. Globally, many of those who are affected by wars, civil unrests and natural disasters are also suffering from one or more forms of malnutrition. Already people living in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen experiencing the most severe levels of food insecurity, with more than 30 million people facing unacceptably high level of acute food insecurity, with millions of them on the brink of famine. Almost 5.7 million children are acutely malnourished in these four countries, out of which 1.4 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition or will be severely wasted by the end of the year, and are at increased risk of dying. Because of the above-mentioned reasons nutrition has been high on the political, humanitarian and development agendas. This was evidenced in the outcomes of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in 2014 and the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.

As you will see from the attached paper prepared by the Global Nutrition Cluster, members of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UN SCN), the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Secretariat and OCHA, malnutrition is an outcome of food insecurity, poor health and care practices. Therefore, as we embark on the HRP process for 2018, working in partnership and across sectors for a common outcome is of paramount importance. Food security and nutrition interventions are key elements of the humanitarian response in addition to health and water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH). The people-centred response should also effectively integrate and address the protection risks in the delivery of services, including from a gender dimension. Clusters/Sectors should also promote a stronger engagement with the affected communities in the assessment of the needs, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the response and ensure systems for monitoring beneficiary satisfaction and complaints mechanism are integrated in the response.

Collectively and effectively addressing malnutrition in humanitarian situations is also crucial to strengthening resilience and achieving a better development outcome. Well-nourished individuals are healthier, can work harder and have greater physical reserves and intellectual abilities positively contributing to a longer-term development of their nations. Therefore, it is important that we build stronger linkages with development actors within the governments and other networks, such as the SUN Movement, which are working to address basic and underlying causes of malnutrition through longer-term national plans of action.

Only by working together and addressing malnutrition from different angles can we achieve the sustainable food security and nutrition for all, including ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as stipulated in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

If we are to address malnutrition in the emergency contexts within which you operate, I am convinced this will contribute significantly towards the 2030 agenda.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office for any further guidance.

Stephen O’Brien

Emergency Relief Coordinator and
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

Download the UN HC Guidance Note here (339 downloads)
Guidance Note for UN Humanitarian Coordinators: Integrated multi-sectoral nutrition actions

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