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SUN CSA AGM improves nutrition through coordination and learning

Over 40 Lao and international organisations met to hold the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) Annual General Meeting at Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane on Tuesday 30th March 2021.

 

The SUN CSA is an alliance of 76 civil society organisations, including 27 international organisations and 49 national organisations, who work together to improve the nutritional status of people across the country. SUN CSA members achieve nutritional improvements by implementing more than 56 nutrition projects in the past year that directly helped over 1 million people in 16 provinces. All projects work in close cooperation with the Government of Lao PDR, and with support from international donors, including the European Union. All of SUN CSA member’s efforts support the Lao PDR Government’s National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action.

 

The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity to share information and updates on the members’ work over the past year and to develop plans for joint efforts in the coming year. The National Nutrition Committee gave a presentation to the AGM participants that discussed the developments in nutrition over the past year and the focus on improved coordination. Presentations were given by four organisations on their work, as well as by USAID and the European Union.

 

The SUN CSA Secretariat also used the meeting to launch its new 5-year Strategy 2021-2025, which continues to support the National Plan of Action for Nutrition, and with focus on capacity building, partnership and knowledge sharing.

 

In his opening remarks, Dr. Ornchanh Keosavanh, Deputy Director General from the Department of Health and Hygiene Promotion at the Ministry of Health, said “The Scaling Up Nutrition movement in Laos supports nutrition coordination across different sectors. The National Nutrition Centre is the SUN Focal Point in Laos and works collaboratively with SUN Civil Society Organisations to continue their nutrition projects in close partnership with the government, so that we can ‘Scale Up Nutrition’ impacts in agriculture, in health, in education and in labour and social welfare. On behalf of the Ministry of Health, I want to thank organisations working on nutrition for our achievements in improving nutrition results in Lao PDR. We know that improving nutrition is a long-term effort, as it requires behaviour change in villages, families and by individuals. We should continue our partnership to change behaviour and improve nutrition, and I encourage everyone to continue to report this success at the national level.”

 

In her opening speech, Kelley Khamphouxay, the Chair of SUN CSA, said that “SUN CSA members organisations are supporting the implementation of nutrition activities across the country. In the past year our organisations have implemented more than 56 projects across 16 provinces and helped over 1 million people. We conducted 43 joint activities through SUN CSA to promote nutrition, including campaigns and advocacy on topics related to the new BMS code, exclusive breastfeeding, agriculture for nutrition and of course COVID prevention. We can see the impact of the SUN CSA members at the National, Provincial and District levels. The nutrition status of women and children is improving in Laos over recent years, which is something we can all be happy about. More cooperation is occurring between international and national organisations, together with the government of Lao PDR for increasing results and cooperation. We should be proud of our results to date and I ask for everyone to continue their support in the coming year.”

 

The AGM was followed by a Nutrition Stakeholders Learning Workshop on Wednesday 31st March, where more project learning and impact will be shared and discussed by staff of nutrition-focused organisations. A third day  focused on trainings in Adolescent nutrition counselling and gender in nutrition. These opportunities to share successes in reducing malnutrition and improving the health of communities in Lao PDR are an important part of professional development and closer coordination that will have long-term impacts on the nutritional status of people across Lao PDR.

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