(August 2015) Each year, more than 70,000 Kenyan children die before their fifth birthday. Malnutrition contributes to nearly half of these deaths. PRB, in collaboration with a multisector Kenyan Task Force, headed by the Division of Nutrition and Dietetics, Ministry of Health, has developed a multimedia presentation, Nutrition on the Rise: Raising Kenya’s Future. The presentation illustrates why proper nutrition for women and children is so important, especially in the first 1,000 day period—from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday. This period represents a critical window of opportunity to avert malnutrition and give children the best chance to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. The presentation also features the consequences of malnutrition, how investments in nutrition can improve health and economic outcomes, and which interventions are known to be most effective.

The chief purpose of this innovative tool is to strengthen support for nutrition as a priority health and development issue on national- and county-level policy agendas in Kenya. The presentation can be used to educate, raise awareness about the consequences of a failure to act, and to mobilize political commitment and resources. Target audiences in Kenya include high-level government policymakers (parliamentarians, governors), program officials, nongovernmental organizations, religious leaders, journalists, academics, community leaders, donors, and others.

In February 2015, the presentation was launched at a national EU-sponsored nutrition symposium in Nairobi, presided over by the First Lady. The presentation opened the symposium, and was narrated by a local celebrity (well-known voice—TV news anchor Johnson Mwakazi). In her opening remarks, the First Lady went off script and cited data directly from the presentation including the value of nutrition investments for national economic growth. She later congratulated the ministry on the high quality of the presentation as an advocacy tool, and for bringing someone with celebrity status to the campaign to help raise the visibility of malnutrition.

In addition, this activity is supporting devolution efforts in Kenya, by providing innovative advocacy materials and financial support to a number of Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) civil society groups working at the county level. Eager to educate and engage new champions, the SUN members are working directly with governors, first ladies, and commissioners to help them understand the state of nutrition in their county and the impact malnutrition has on children. Many are not aware that lack of adequate nutrition in the first 1,000 days can cause irreversible damage to the brain, and are shocked by this fact. These efforts are resulting in increased commitments, including new and increased funding for nutrition in this year’s county budgets.

Funding for this presentation and advocacy materials was generously provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under RENEW (Re-energizing Nutrition-Expanding Worldwide), a global initiative that focuses on combating malnutrition in mothers and children (0-24 months) in developing countries. RENEW is designed to raise the visibility of this public health crisis, mobilize commitment and resources, and accelerate the implementation of proven and promising new approaches.

Nutrition on the Rise: Raising Kenya’s Future is available with and without a voiceover, in English. The presentation can be downloaded from the PRB website or streamed via PRB's YouTube channel in English; USB drives are also available upon request. A presentation guide is available to provide facilitators with skills and resources to effectively deliver and lead discussion about the presentation.

For more information about Nutrition on the Rise: Raising Kenya’s Future or to request a copy of the presentation and materials, please contact Jessica Kali, 202-939-5450.