Supporting Nutrition Sensitive Programming in Yemen
From July 2021, the GNC Technical Alliance started supporting Building Foundation for Development, a national Yemeni NGO. This support provided an important boost to their nutrition response across Yemen.
Building Foundation for Development (BFD) is one of the largest Yemeni national non-profit NGOs. BFD has been operating in Yemen over the past 12 years. With a multi-sectoral approach to programming, BFD operates with a deep and broad knowledge of Yemeni society, especially within humanitarian, social, and economic contexts, as well as first-hand experience of supporting the nutrition needs in local communities as the largest NGO in the nutrition sector. It was clear to BFD that if they wanted to succeed in building resilient communities with strong and sustainable nutrition systems in order to tackle the high levels of malnutrition in Yemen, they needed to shift from short term humanitarian responses, to a longer-term strategy.
With this goal, BFD reached out to the GNC Technical Alliance (the Alliance) for technical support in developing a nutrition-sensitive strategy and operational approach, alongside a Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) strategy and action plan. To fulfill the request the Alliance convened a team including SBC Advisor Sona Sharma and consultants from Nutrition 4 Development (N4D) to deliver the support. N4D is a major player in strengthening nutrition systems at the local and global levels using evidence-based knowledge and learning to influence decisions and take action. A critical element of the support was that the strategies were accompanied with concrete, practical actions that BFD could do to improve programming, and that BFD staff were trained to implement these actions.
First the team conducted a nutrition situation analysis of Yemen and looked at current global guidance and evidence-based nutrition sensitive approaches. The team also supported BFD to analyze their current program portfolio to identify ways in which they could expand their multi-sectoral nutrition-sensitive approaches and capabilities in Yemen, whilst aligning with national nutrition policies and results framework.
Following this, BFD were supported to develop their first nutrition-sensitive strategy and operational approach. This meant looking at all of their programmes, and seeing how they can be improved to support nutrition outcomes. For example, how cash and voucher assistance is planned and conceived to maximize the impact on nutrition. Or how health centres can better integrate activities that support breastfed as well as non-breastfed infants. BFD led on the writing with support from the team, and will now develop an action plan for implementation. Finally, a capacity assessment of BFD staff was conducted before developing and delivering training on the agreed strategy and operational approach.
In parallel, the SBC Advisor supported the BFD team in developing a multi-sector social and behaviour change strategy as well as strengthening capacities of field staff on SBC implementation. This included identifying information gaps on behaviours and training the team on conducting qualitative research to collect information on barriers and determinants for behaviour change. An online SBC strategy development workshop was held with participants representing all sectors that BFD works on. This was followed by a training of trainers on practical application of SBC concepts within ongoing interventions, which will be rolled out to the field staff.
The new SBC and nutrition sensitive strategies and trained work force, positions BFD very well to not only improve the quality and effectiveness of their interventions, but also to lead on forming new partnerships and developing multiyear, multisectoral nutrition specific and sensitive activities. This new approach will enable BFD’s interventions to have a more effective and sustainable impact on nutrition across Yemen.