Learning Route in Rwanda, supported by The SUN Civil Society Network (SUN CSN), a body within the SUN Movement made up of national and international organizations working in various fields, and PROCASUR Corporation, a global organization specialized in fostering local knowledge exchange to fight rural poverty, has organized a six day program which is scheduled to start from 31st of October to 5th of November 2016.
Giulia Pedone, PROCASUR, methodological coordinator, Cecilia Rubert, Sun Civil Society Network, Learning Route Coordinator and John Butera Mugabe, chairman, scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Alliance Rwanda shared their expectations and what is all about the Learning Route in Rwanda. Here are the excerpts;
What is Learning Route? (Giulia)
A Learning Route is a global organization specialized in fostering local knowledge exchange to fight rural poverty, an educational journey built around the experiences of local organizations that are supported to systematize and share their knowledge with others.
Being the first Learning exchange program for civil society alliances in Africa, the Learning Route in Rwanda is a peer-to-peer training tool which aims to encourage mutual learning and sharing between civil society alliances, building their capacity for nutrition advocacy and social mobilization to help them in their efforts to scale up nutrition actions for better nutrition and food security outcomes in their respective countries.
Has the Learning Route happened anywhere else? (Giulia)
The Learning Route has been conducted by PROCASUR Corporation in partnership with many organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean since 2006. Over 150 Learning Routes have been held in 35 countries. Through this process PROCASUR has worked directly in the field to find best practices. These have been used to support the development of strategies and strengthening capacities of over 1500 direct users and 40 different nationalities.
Through this process PROCASUR and its partners have been able to establish champions in communities, associations, enterprises, rural development projects and government for sustainability of the various programs.
Why in Rwanda? (Cecilia)
Rwanda was chosen to host this learning route because it is one of the biggest success stories in Africa. So far Rwanda has recorded high growth, rapid poverty reduction and reduced inequality in Africa over the past ten years. Realizing the impact of malnutrition on development, the government of Rwanda has placed nutrition high on the national agenda to ensure it is addressed and national targets are met by 2020.
What are the main activities involved? (Giulia)
It has been designed to include a number of activities to facilitate learning and experience sharing. These will involve field visits, simulation and group exercises and presentations from government partners, civil society, and community based organizations and groups. Activities will fall under 5 key themes that cover civil society alliance daily interventions in nutrition; including advocacy, social campaign and community mobilization,multi-stakeholder coordination, communication for behavioral change and integrated approaches to fight malnutrition.
What is SUN Alliance and what does it do?
Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) AllianceRwanda is a legally registered umbrella organization of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in Rwanda to promote sensitive and specific nutrition interventions. The primary purpose of the SUN Alliance is to strengthen the coordination between nutrition actors, through tracking results, aligning strategies, programs and resources of its members with country plans to Eliminate all forms of Malnutrition.
SUN Alliance Rwanda also believes in strengthening the principle of accountability within its members as well as advocating for more nutrition actions especially multi-sectoral coordination backed by increased financing, of which can only be achieved by strengthening the support available through Capacity building.
Mobilizing resources to eliminate malnutrition is another key intervention undertaken by Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Alliance Rwanda. Through this approach of allying together, each of the nutrition actors has a unique contribution to make and share experience with other members.
Who will be participating? (Butera)
Participants from 11 countries, mainly from 8 African countries will be participating; Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Italy and Kenya. Alongside participants from Government, National and international organizations, Private sectors, donors and UN Agencies. Members of civil society, Academia and government at national and district levels will also be part of this experience.
What are your expectations from this experience? (Butera)
Well, we expect that participants will take away strong lessons from the examples, we will show them of how we have worked together with other key stakeholders from government, private sector and more importantly communities through advocacy and community mobilization, to yield some of the results we will be showcasing during this 6 day experience.
We also hope to learn from participants as well, as they have also been conducting various activities in their respective countries to combat malnutrition.
What will they learn from this experience? (Giulia)
Participants will learn from 5 best practice examples including;
Rwanda Stakeholder and Action Mapping for Nutrition: lead by the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with ONE UNREACH, this mapping exercise is aimed at improving coordination among actors, to determine ‘who is doing what and where’ to identify gaps and improve planning and scaling up interventions in the country.
Strengthening Pro-poor Public and Private Partnerships to fight malnutrition- the DUHAMIC-ADRI and SOSOMA experience: This example looks at an integrated approach to enhanced rural livelihoods through public private partnerships. The process of how a national NGO came to partner with a food processing company and how they have complemented government nutrition policies leading to improved livelihoods and nutrition.
Communication strategies for behavioral change in nutrition-the Land O’ Lakes and Urunana Experience: This example is based on how Land O’ Lakes (an organization working on behavior change for nutrition) collaborated with Urunana Development Communication (a popular media for development house) to channel nutrition messages related to milk consumption into the story line of a highly popular soap opera, leading to increased dairy production and consumption.
Milk Way-enhancing nutrition from producer to consumer. The Nyanza District experience: This example looks at how the challenges related to milk quality, quantity, poor management and disease was addressed to increase milk consumption and how this contributed to the reduction in child mortality from malnutrition.
Decentralisation and operationalization of nutrition at district level, the Gisagara experience: This example offers participants an insight into multi sectoral coordination of the SUN Alliance and decentralization of nutrition policies at local level. It will enable participants to understand the modalities through which civil society can enhance policies and strategies to effectively address nutrition issues focusing on the most vulnerable groups.
What are your expectations from this experience? (Cecilia)
For SUN CSN we expect all our civil society alliances to use what they have learned from this experience to improve interventions in their various countries. We also hope that this experience will bring the various alliances together so that they can find ways of working together on nutrition across borders.
This experience will create champions in government, civil society and communities. We hope they will continue to champion nutrition in various institutions and communities so that the gains in nutrition interventions that we will have the opportunity to see will continue to grow.