Feed the Future Ethiopia Growth through Nutrition Activity’s Annual Review and Planning Meeting was held August 13-15 at Kaleb Hotel in Addis Ababa, and brought together staff from local NGOs, management and leads from project regional offices, and staff from project implementing partners including Land o’Lakes, PSI, Jhpiego, the Manoff Group, Tufts University and World Vision.
Opening remarks were given by Save the Children Ethiopia Chief of Party Dan Abbott, Deputy Country Director Michelle Bowman, and USAID’s new Nutrition Coordinator James Sitrick, who congratulated staff and highlighted Growth through Nutrition’s progress and performance through the year’s challenges.
Over the three-day conference, Save the Children and partners presented updates and progress made on Year II activities while outlining activities that would commence in Year III.
First day activities included presentations from thematic leads on lessons learned from Year II activities. These included the SBCC activities led by the Manoff group, construction and marketing of WASH systems and products by PSI and World Vision, the livelihoods and agriculture projects led by Land o’ Lakes, and Research and Knowledge Management activities by Tufts University.
Highlights of the presentations included reports on the expansion efforts of SBCC programs and the suggestion of potential measures to reach households in kebeles not included in ECC interventions. The presentation also outlined how future projects will aim to link facilitators with HEWS.
World Vision emphasized their strengthened collaboration with government agencies and overall progress in empowering WASHCOs through regular capacity building training to woreda experts as a part of their WASH construction activities. Recommendations for Year III include the introduction of multiple-use water systems in the new WASH strategy to encourage beneficiaries to use water for homestead and NSA gardens.
Building off lessons learned from the Manoff group’s SBCC activities in Year II, PSI will aim to devise an approach that incorporates adolescent girls’ ability to influence household involvement in WASH marketing activities.
Land o’ Lakes outlined upcoming activities that would include evidence-based approaches related to cash for nutrition. Following consultation with a technical working group and Save the Children US’s lead TA, Land o’ Lakes will pilot the activity and begin providing cash transfers to MVHHs to purchase seeds and other farm tools.
Later in the day, thematic leads from SCI (IR3 and IR5) presented updates on the status of Quality Nutrition Services and Multi-Sector Coordination while progress on the Pre-service Education Program was reported on by the implementing organization, Jhpiego. The Growth through Nutrition Gender Specialist introduced plans for new activities to incentivize local businesses to produce gender-sensitive technologies, and also suggested future SBCC research that would examine household decision-making processes to encourage enhanced communication among couples or partners. M&E teams presented performance and activity highlights followed by a briefing from Tufts’ Senior Learning Advisor on Learning and Knowledge Management activities and key learnings from project implementation. The presentations included guidance for thematic leads on specific project aims; an imperative recommendation outlined the need to intensify already existing interventions in regions with higher stunting rates in order to achieve the target 2%-point decrease per year.
The second day of the conference began with a short presentation from the Finance and Donor Compliance Specialist regarding the overall financial performance of project partners. The remainder of the day consisted of discussion sessions centered on finalizing workplans for Year III based on the data and lessons discussed the previous day. Cross-cutting teams of gender, convergence and layering, and learning provided input and guidance throughout the process.
The final day of the conference consisted of presentations from regional teams on their finalized work-plans. Key issues and challenges for guidance were discussed with teams primed to complete budget finalization meetings the following week. Tufts University presented the findings of the Annual Knowledge Management Assessment Survey and encouraged regional teams and thematic leads to use the findings to improve their performance in the coming year. The conference concluded with closing remarks from Dan Abbott who encouraged increased efforts to work creatively and efficiently in the new political and financial environment.