The County Government of Turkana has launched the County Nutrition Plan (CNAP) 2019 – 2023 aimed at improving the nutrition status of the people of Turkana, with particular emphasis on women of reproductive age, infants, and young children. The plan intends to reduce the magnitude of malnutrition in Turkana and its impact on the individual, household, community, and the county at large through multi-sector coordination.
Malnutrition continues to be a persistent public health problem in Turkana County despite the considerable investments that have been made by the government and partners in the last decade. According to the SMART survey conducted in 2019, 25.6% (78,311) children are wasted, 23.3% (36,500) have stunted growth and 37.0% (58,000) are underweight. Some of the contributing factors to malnutrition in the county include chronic and acute food insecurity, poor dietary diversity and low access to fortified foods, poor childcare and feeding practices, negative cultural beliefs and social norms, insecurity caused by inter-clan conflicts, recurrent droughts and floods.
The CNAP also contributes to the Kenya National Nutrition Action Plan (KNAP) 2018-2022 goal of ‘achieving optimal nutrition for a healthier and better quality of life and improved productivity for the country’s accelerated social and economic growth.’ Towards achieving this goal at the sub-national level, the Turkana CNAP has been contextualized to address county-specific nutrition issues while proposing interventions that are appropriate for the local context. The development of the CNAP is in line with changes in Kenya’s political environment that resulted in the creation of 47 county governments. The role of county governments has become critical in ensuring the successful implementation of sustainable nutrition actions.
Speaking during the launch, Turkana County Governor Hon. Josephat Nanok emphasized that Food and Nutrition Security is among the FIVE Transformative Development Priorities. He commended development partners for their input to the development of the action plan as it will support the county end acute malnutrition for residents of Turkana, improve the health of the population and ensure enhanced productivity for economic growth.
The role of county governments has become critical in ensuring the successful implementation of sustainable nutrition actions. The process of developing the action plan was initiated in September 2019 where the USAID funded Afya Timiza project played a crucial role in the establishment of a clear road map through technical and logistical support in collaboration with the county government and development partners in the county to ensure its completion and launch.
The CNAP identifies priority multi-sectoral nutrition actions for each sector with a focus on the implementation of low-cost, high-impact activities that will have the most significant impact on the largest number of people.
Hon. Nanok reiterated, “It is upon the County Government, civil society, donors, business community and development partners including UN agencies to support the implementation of this action plan and align their programs to it for a united response.”
The USAID-funded Afya Timiza project aims to sustainably improve health and nutrition outcomes for mothers, children and adolescents residing in the arid and semi-arid areas of Turkana and Samburu Counties. The overall objective of the project in nutrition is improving coverage and quality as well as continuously working with the county government to commit, plan and budget for evidence-based impact interventions to address the underlying causes of malnutrition.