Mapping SUN Movement Networks in 17 fragile and conflict-affected states: A snap shot of developments and progress
Founded in 2011, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is a unique movement focused on strengthening political commitments to nutrition and improving accountability for those commitments. The Movement is made up of voluntary membership of SUN countries, Networks and supporters. The Movement has a global Secretariat hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services, which describes itself as belonging to “all those who support [the Movement]”.
The SUN Networks are a unique element of the Movement’s approach. They are part of both the global and country-level architecture of SUN and are described in the strategic document The SUN Road Map 2016-2020 as “a collection of national movements led by governments committed to scaling up nutrition impact and results, along with partners aligned to support their goals” (2016).
In every country that voluntarily signs up to join the SUN Movement, a government-appointed SUN Focal Point (FP) is assigned responsibility for leading the Movement in the country. SUN FPs are the lynchpins in the SUN architecture, responsible for linking their country to the broader global Movement. In addition, they are responsible for bringing together both different sectors within government to ensure that nutrition is on the agenda of all relevant ministries, and different types of stakeholders. There are four key stakeholder groups which are encouraged to align behind the SUN agenda at country level and support the SUN FP: civil society, UN, donors and the private sector. These groups represent the four formal SUN Networks. In the SUN approach, each Network is established and appoints a convenor who brings together stakeholders interested in nutrition within their own group, as well as bringing the voice of the group to multi-stakeholder platforms involving all other Networks under the leadership of the SUN FP. In addition to this country-level SUN Network architecture, each of the four formal SUN Networks has a global convenor or secretariat, mirroring the global presence of the SUN Movement Secretariat. In addition to four formal Networks, informal SUN Networks have arisen in several SUN countries, including academic, media and parliamentarian networks. Where these exist they are often linked to or supported by formal Networks.
While this is the ideal model of the SUN country Network architecture, in practice the SUN Movement has taken root in diverse contexts and institutional arrangements, so it can look very different in any given country.
The presence and activity of SUN Networks is seen as an important measure of establishing an enabling environment for nutrition at country level. The importance of the SUN Networks was reflected in the 2015 Independent Comprehensive Evaluation (ICE) report, which noted that, while tangible results are not always immediately apparent, the Networks have been instrumental in revitalising many debates critical to scaling up nutrition, and that respondents who identified themselves as being regularly involved with country Networks “saw them as useful for information sharing, increasing or sustaining momentum behind SUN processes in country, and convening like-minded stakeholders.”
The status of Networks is measured on an ongoing basis through the SUN monitoring, evaluation accountability and learning (MEAL) system, and used as a proxy indicator for the institutional embedding of nutrition in a country. Countries with less established or less active Networks are rated lower for their enabling environment through this MEAL framework. It is important to note that the source of information on Network status in the MEAL is the self-reporting by SUN Networks in the annual Joint Assessment (JA) exercise.