Innovative approach key to better targeting of resources for improved nutrition
This year’s recently released Global Nutrition Report included nutrition investment statistics calculated using the Three-Step Approach, developed by OPM in association with the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.
Thirty countries included in the 2015 Global Nutrition Report have used the Three-Step Approach to compile their data by identifying, categorising and weighting budget allocations to nutrition programmes. OPM has worked with the SUN Movement Secretariat since 2013, providing technical assistance to track financial resources for nutrition. The Movement is a global coalition of governments, the UN, businesses, donors and other stakeholders who aim to improve access to food and good nutrition.
This year’s Global Nutrition Report focuses on the global battle against malnutrition, explaining the reasons behind successes and outlining the continuing challenges.
With the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals last month, almost 200 countries pledged to ‘end malnutrition in all forms’ by 2030. In order to achieve this, it’s vital that progress – or the lack of it – is possible to measure. The global target for reducing stunted growth in children by 2025 is much more likely to be hit because progress will be measured within the period, allowing priorities and budgets to change.
The importance of measuring extends to investment. Spending on nutrition programmes has risen in recent years, but budgets are still tight. Expenditure therefore needs to be tracked in order to best allocate resources and have the highest chance of achieving an end to malnutrition.
Nutrition spend is not always easy to measure, however, as different ministries – such as those responsible for health, social protection and agriculture – all potentially have nutrition-related expenditure. For a comprehensive picture, this cross-ministry spend must all be accounted for, and the Three-Step Approach allows for this.
Clara Picanyol, Senior Consultant at OPM and co-creator of the approach said:
‘We’re really excited to have worked with the SUN Movement on this approach to tracking spending. It’s great to see so many countries already making use of it, and we’re confident it will really contribute to budgeting and accounting for nutrition investments.’
The Approach has guidelines for data collection, categorisation and weighting. This means, for example, that direct spending on nutrition programmes, such as producing nutritional guidance pamphlets for doctors to give out, is given a higher weighting than agricultural spending on increasing crop yields. Most importantly, this process has opened a debate on the design of some particular programmes, and how they might be improved to have a larger impact on nutrition outcomes.
The clear picture produced is valued highly by the teams who have used it so far. Safina Abdulloeva, Nutrition Officer at UNICEF Tajikistan, said:
‘The overall exercise was extremely useful, improving understanding of the national budget for multi-stakeholder platform members. The three-step exercise is an eye-opener and fittingly, for a measure of nutrition expenditure, it provides plenty of food for thought on resource allocation!’
The adoption of the Three-Step Approach to measuring nutrition investment will allow countries to see where they are meeting their financing targets, and where they are not. The increasing number of countries using the approach will also allow some cross-country comparisons in the coming years, as more details emerge. All of this knowledge can then inform onward budgeting and donor activity, ultimately leading to improved nutrition for affected groups.