On 1st of February 2021, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) organised a Webinar in collaboration with UNICEF and IFPRI/Transform Nutrition West Africa, which brought together over 100 participants from the region. The webinar aimed to share country experiences of adopting the Call To Action (CTA) issued one year ago following the Together For Nutrition data forum and calling upon countries to invest more in the Nutrition Data Value chain.
Representatives from the Liberian and Kenyan governments presented their experience in building their nutrition information system. They showcased the key role of government leadership in convening the different actors into a multisectoral space along the nutrition data value chain.
Furthermore, feedback from countries which participated in the 2020 Data Forum (Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, and Ghana) demonstrated how the participatory process of delivering the CTA was catalytic in bringing about a positive impact on the nutrition data value chain in those countries. Among the major challenges that were highlighted, we noted the lack of sustainable funding, the digitalization of data collection, the involvement of other sectors beyond nutrition, a high staff turnover and the lack of anchoring data training in academic institutions.
During the panel discussion, two examples at regional level on how to respond to the CTA were shared. The first related to the concept of using data to inform policy and strategy formulation and was exemplified by the development of a regional initiative “Stronger with BreastMilk Only (SWBO)” campaign led by UNICEF and A&T (https://www.breastmilkonly.com/fr/bienvenue) which aims at improving exclusive breastfeeding. So far, the initiative has rolled out to 17 countries in the region.
The second example responded to the call to harmonize data. The opportunity for regional leadership by the WAHO was recognized as key in monitoring performance and resource mobilisation for member countries. To this end the ongoing WAHO-USAID initiative aiming at creating a regional Nutrition Observatory as a data warehouse for collecting, synthesising, analysing and dissemination of reliable quality information on nutrition and food security in the region was recognized.
At country level, Nigeria shared their experience on using the CTA to provide leadership for developing and implementing coordinated strategies for nutrition data and to invest in capacity strengthening around each stage in the data value chain.
Improving the speed at which data is made available to inform prompt response to a crisis of sudden onset, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, was recognized and echoed by the Kenyan experience of 2007 post-election crisis. Finally, continuing to empower all stakeholders, including outside the nutrition sector with skills in the creation, analysis and use of nutrition data was also recognised as key towards improvement of the data value chain at country level.
Going forward, the WAHO and collaborating partners, will continue to support countries in their uptake of the CTA. There will also be a follow-up assessment on the Data Forum and its usefulness and related outcomes. Lastly, the WAHO is leading on building a Nutrition Observatory, which will allow for validation of nutrition indicators and built countries’ capacity along the data value chain.
A Question and Answer summary from the webinar is now available.
From: Barbara Baille1, John Ntambi1, Roos Verstraeten2, and Namoudou Keita3
2West African Health Organisation
 all information on this event available here https://westafrica.transformnutrition.org/event/together-for-nutrition-west-african-data-forum/
 Kenya was invited as special guest to the webinar to share their experience on their development of the nutrition information system.