Project Factsheet
Tools for » SUN 02/MWI/004 “Civil Society”
Project ID:00084721Description:SUN 02/MWI/004 “Civil Society”
SUN Movement Fund
Start Date *: 11 Dec 2012
Country Catalytic Programmes
End Date*: 31 Dec 2016
Country: Malawi Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   WFP - World Food Programme

 Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Scaling Up Nutrition in Malawi


  • Country: Malawi
  • Implementing Partner: Concern Worldwide Malawi
  • Participating Organization: WFP
  • Duration: 36 months –January 2013- December 2015
  • MPTF support: US$ 428.000
  • Main Contact: Johnatan Napier at


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During the last five years, Malawi has placed nutrition high on the development agenda, and was the first country to launch the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative and the 1000 Special Days movement. The Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the office of President and Cabinet (OPC), which is spearheading the SUN initiative in Malawi, has outlined a “reach out” strategy which aims to empower individuals and organizations with technical, advocacy and implementation skills that will translate into improved knowledge, action, and practice during the first 1000 days of a child’s life. The Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS has worked to strengthen multi-sectoral networks encompassing government and civil society. National-level sectoral nutrition strategies have contributed to improvements in maternal and child mortality and nutrition indicators over the past decade.

There has been some improvement in nutrition for children under five years of age. However, chronic malnutrition remains high. Some of the factors that contribute to high rates of under undernutrition are frequent illnesses among children, inadequate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, poor sanitation, and a poor quality diet in many homes.  Stunting has decreased, although it remains high, with 49% of children stunted in 2000 compared to 41% in 2010. The percentage of children who are underweight has reduced from 25% in 2000 to 17% in 2010, and wasting has also dropped slightly, from 5.5% to 3.6%. Community mobilization and communication for exclusive breastfeeding for infants less than six months of age has resulted in improved exclusive breastfeeding rates. In 2000, just 12% of children aged 4 to 5 months were exclusively breastfed, compared with 42% in 2010.

Whilst acknowledging the great achievements that have been registered, there is still need to further advance nutrition in Malawi.  It is well recognised that addressing malnutrition requires a multi-sectoral response.


This project proposes the setting up of a strong, sustainable, influential and prominent Civil Society Organisations' (CSO) Alliance who will pay a significant role in supporting the promotion and implementation of nutrition interventions for the enhancement of the nutrition agenda for Malawi. The CSO Alliance will work closely with key stakeholders in nutrition at all levels which include; Government Ministries, Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) - Department of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS (DNHA), implementing NGOs, UN Partners, Private Sector, Academia and Zonal, district and community structures to ensure that a focus on nutrition is included in their program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The explicit proposal overarching objective is that of contributing to the national goal of having a well-nourished Malawi, with sound human resources that effectively contributes to the economic growth and prosperity of the country.

Overall, the project will ensure there is organised participation of civil society and community based organisations in policy, planning and budgeting dialogue on nutrition issues at all levels. The project will support capacity building of CSOs and community based organisations in the implementation of the National Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy (NECS).

Other countries –including neighboring countries- have successfully engaged civil society in nutrition through improving coordination, establishing strategic platforms, and involving non-traditional sectors such as the media and private sector.  However, in Malawi, most nutrition advocacy is currently government-led. The overall aim of this project is to harness the potential power of cross-sectoral civil society engagement in advancing nutrition within the national agenda.

Its intended goal is that of contributing to the national goal of having a well-nourished Malawi, with sound human resources that effectively contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the country.


The project aims to reach three main outcomes through advocacy in response to three key challenges as identified with regard to nutrition from a civil society perspective in Malawi. They are: (1) Uncoordinated and fragmented nutrition programming with few CSOs working within nutrition and with focus often on service delivery and subsequent weak coordination of information and sharing of best practices; (2) Limited resource allocation to nutrition programmes and subsequent competition for financial and human resources and low prioritization of nutrition for resource allocation by the Government and by development partners (esp at district and community level) and; (3) uncoordinated messaging to foster uptake of best practice in nutrition at household level with recently launched National Education and Communication Strategy (NECS) and national campaign branded “1,000 Special DAYS” being an opportunity to improve coordination in the delivery of the messages at community levels .

The project will specifically address the three challenges above by:

(a) establishing an effective CSO Alliance to be able to influence policy making;

(b) supporting the increased resource allocation and commitment to nutrition programmes through public awareness and advocacy campaigns and;

(c) engaging households in aligned nutrition interventions that result in uptake of best practice.

Some main activities to achieve these outcomes include:


• Mapping of existing civil society actors and identification of potential CSOs interested in forming an Platform

• Organizational capacity assessment of the identified CSOs and training needs requirement conducted 

•Focal organization to facilitate the formation of the Platform 

• Constitution to govern  CSO Platform in place

• Steering committee meetings held every quarter

• Bi-Annual board meetings held

• Preliminary support for set up of functional website by 2013 with regular updated information.

• Advocacy materials available at National, District and community level


• Champions from Parliament, public and private sector including Malawian Personalities id entified by end of year 1, to raise nutrition issues with decision makers and lobby for equitable resource allocation for nutrition programmes

• Increased media coverage of nutrition issues 

• At least 10 CSOs accessing support to incorporate SUN activities into their programmes

• Annual budget tracking & expenditure monitoring reports produced & presented prior to the presentation of the national budget

•Increased trend in national budget allocation to nutrition up to 10% by year 3

•Clearly defined nutrition activities included in the District Implementation Plans each year

• Area and Village Development Committees have developed action plans to support implementation of SUN activities

•National  and district Budget Statements and annual CSO report produced and used for continued advocacy through lobby meetings with key decision makers.


• Harmonized nutrition messages are available for consistent and effective messaging

• Analysis of linkages across sectors for maximizing synergies for effective information sharing

• Functional Coordination structures across sectors at community level identified and in place

• Active involvement of communities in nutrition interventions with community action plans developed

• At least 2 popular mobilisation activities conducted each year in their communities engaging grassroots civil society nutrition champions

• IEC materials are regularly available and distributed community level to educate and promote uptake of appropriate practices for improved nutrition


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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Malawi or the lead agency for the programme. The MPTF Office Portfolio Manager (or Country Director with Delegation of Authority) for this programme:

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