Translating Multisectoral Nutrition Policy into Community Practice: Participation of Nutrition Officers in Tanzania Fosters Effective Collaborative Strategies to Improve Child Nutrition

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, 1 April 2022
Klemm G.C., Kayanda R., Kazoba A., McCann J., Nnally L.P., Dickin K.L.
Background: Globally, multisectoral coordination for nutrition is needed to tackle multiple determinants of undernutrition and address unacceptably high rates of stunting in young children. Tanzania has strong national policies and implementation plans to strengthen multisectoral nutrition (MSN) governance, yet local actors must transcend sector silos to fully implement MSN actions in communities. Objectives: We engaged with Nutrition Officers in Regional Secretariats and District Councils to explore strategies, barriers, and facilitators for creating novel "MSN action teams."Methods: An initial "Learning Exchange"workshop gathered input from nutrition staff in 5 regions and invited their participation in mentoring and supporting MSN collaboration. Regional Nutrition Officers piloted action teams in their districts, supporting District Nutrition Officers to create teams of 3-4 officers from relevant sectors (agriculture, community development, health, education) to plan and implement community-based activities consistent with sector priorities and national policy. To learn from stakeholder experiences, longitudinal data were collected through individual semistructured interviews and documentation of activities; 27 officers were interviewed 1-4 times over 14 mo. Results: Four districts successfully created action teams that bridged communication gaps between administrators and implementors; made progress on advocacy, collaboration, and budgeting for nutrition; and initiated MSN implementation in communities. Participants identified strategies to overcome challenges to cross-sector collaboration including heavy workloads and limited resources and supervisor buy-in. Based on their experiences and innovations in creating MSN action teams, stakeholders shared valuable recommendations for peer learning across sectors to scale up MSN collaboration. Officers' presentation of insights to regional and district leaders buoyed interest in MSN action teams as a feasible and acceptable approach to strengthen local governance and implementation to improve child nutrition. Conclusions: Experience-based input from government officers engaged in novel community and intersectoral collaborations provided actionable guidance for putting national MSN policy into practice and leveraging the capacity of implementation staff.