Sunday 30th November Umubano Hotel, Kigali

The first day of the Learning Route in Rwanda for civil society alliances kicked off with an Experience Fair at Umubano Hotel in Kigali. Planned as a preparation session for this 6-day learning exchange program, the fair highlighted objectives and mapped out expected outcomes from this event.

In explaining the justification for the learning route Giulia Pedone, Coordinator of the Learning Route Methodology from Procasur Corporation said that the idea for this event emerged from discussions among civil society alliances at the SUN Global Gathering in Milan 2016. “ There was a call for civil society to come together and work together. The main objective of the learning route is to strengthen alliances, advocacy, social mobilization and communication skills to become stronger advocates for nutrition. ” She went on to state that this process had been used by the SUN Movement Secretariat for government partners in Dakar, 2014 with positive results.

To set the scene for the learning process over the coming days, delegates from the 8 countries; Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda alongside Rwanda the host country, gave brief presentations on the nutrition status of their respective countries, key intervention areas, achievements, challenges and contributions as civil society alliances in government efforts to end hunger and malnutrition.

Planning ahead for the launch of the Learning Route on Monday 31st November at Serena Hotel, alliances plan to develop key messages to present to high-level government ministry representatives and other key actors which will include donors, UN agencies, academia and media with call to action for increased commitment to improving nutrition.

Reflecting on emerging issues from presentations made, Richard Baguma from Uganda civil society alliance noted similarities in efforts. “ Listening to presentations it is clear that most of the nutrition challenges in the different countries are similar. It is therefore necessary for us to agree on key asks relevant to all our contexts in our call to action moving forward.”

The experience fair is a promising start to what appears to be a key moment for alliances to not only come together and share experiences in a supportive environment. It is a chance for civil society to strategise using common stories to put a strong case to government, donors and other key partners on the need for an enabling policy environment, multi-sectoral thinking and action and increased funding for nutrition if we are to achieve global targets of zero hunger by 2030.