Nutrition & Health Center for Training and Research

International Conference on “Child Nutrition and man-made crisis”

Concept Note

Background:

Natural and man-made disasters can put children's health and development at risk for years to come. Disasters touch the lives of millions of children every year, and children are especially vulnerable to the aftereffects of these events.

When disaster strikes, help is needed, and is needed fast. Helping the world’s most vulnerable populations in crisis situations is a moral imperative for the international community and can make the difference between life and death. Responding to this imperative, the aim is saving and preserving life wherever people are in need of relief, and preventing and alleviating human suffering, whilst preserving the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural or man-made disasters.

Worldwide, women and children are often much more likely than men to die in a disaster, whether man-made or natural. And each year, thousands more mothers and children die in conflict-settings than fighters die in battle. 

Statement of the problem

Last year Save the Children responded to 119 humanitarian crises in 48 different countries. With record numbers of people displaced by war and conflict, it’s clear we need to do more to protect mothers and children who are often the poorest and weakest segments of their societies. More than half of all maternal and child deaths occur in fragile settings affected by conflict. The impact that conflict has on fragile health systems is immense, and was a major block to achieving our shared goal of achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce preventable child deaths by two thirds by 2015.  Of the 178 countries ranked, seven countries, including the DRC, Niger, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau are all still in the bottom ten and have placed last on the index since it was launched in 2000. Six of these have a history of conflict.

In Sudan, some 750,000 children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition every year, putting them at high risk of death. More than the above number is affected by wars in Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains. The children who survive face problems that can last a lifetime, from stunting and wasting to behavioral and developmental problems, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, and emotional problems like anxiety and depression. However, beating malnutrition is not this straightforward. Adjustment problems among children who've experienced a crisis or lived through a disaster are a significant public health issue. Changes in eating habits such as children may lose their appetite or eat more, children may be less willing to engage in social activities and they may seem sad or even depressed. Children who've experienced one disaster may worry it will happen again. They may also develop unrelated fears, such as fear of the dark or separation anxiety. Conflicts are often followed by a string of negative events, such as financial worries, the loss of loved ones, domestic violence and problems with parents' health or marriage, which could place added stress on children.

The School of Health Sciences (formerly was the School of Family Sciences) was established in 1966 with a major focus on preparing qualified cadre to respond to the nutrition and health related challenges among vulnerable groups especially children. In 1989, the School had successfully organized an International Symposium on Child weaning practices and Media Production in Sudan with the aim of improving the nutritional status and growth of this vulnerable group. Twenty six year later the children are still suffering nutrition and growth problems as a result of man made crises (wars) in many parts of the country

AUW sustained its commitment to Child’s welfare and rights through addressing nutrition and health issues in its teaching and outreach programs. In 2002 AUW established the Nutrition and Health Center for Training and Research (NHCTR) under the umbrella of the School of Health Sciences as an arm for training and research and filling the huge apparent training and research gap in the fields of nutrition, health and dietetics in the SudanIt also aims to be a leading regional center aiming for excellence on nutrition and health through capacity building, evidence based planning to research and strengthening of links and interactions between academia and practitioners.

Now as Ahfad University for Women is heading towards its Golden Jubilee, it aims to organize this conference as a milestone of its efforts and contributions towards improving the nutrition and health status of children under the situation of man made crises in Sudan and elsewhere in the world.

International Conference: rationale and scope:

As part of AUW outreach efforts to the community, the International Conference on “Child Nutrition and man-made crisis” is structured to be a scientific knowledge and practice-sharing conference, to promote child nutrition and health status in the international developmental agenda and brings the international expertise to Sudan. This conference aims to  promote knowledge and experience sharing, exchange of best practices between local, regional and international actors, that aim to enhance the local actors’ and policy makers’ abilities in developing suitable plans to execute Sudan’s set goals and national agenda for improving child nutrition and health during crisis.

Despite the reasonable progress made in the last two decades to improving nutrition and health, specifically in regard to reducing child malnutrition, yet, wars remain major constrains to expanding and acceleration of progress. Efforts by Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH)and national actors to identify the factors that affect current and future food and nutrition insecurity, together with the opportunities for strengthening coping mechanisms and reducing vulnerability for different livelihood groups, analyzing this information helps to identify the priority actions that are needed to strengthen coping mechanisms, increase knowledge and skills and reduce vulnerability.

The time is now opportune to act on sustainable and appropriate interventions, services and policies to reduce child vernalibility during manmade crisis in Sudan. Now it is the time to bring these into light, share, evaluate and analyze their suitability for scaling up. Hence, the subthemes of the conference were chosen and set to revolve the gaps of a nutrition focal point or coordinating body which could include information sharing and advocacy, preparing regular overviews of the food and nutrition and health situation, identifying information gaps, coordinating the implementation of interventions that add value and increase the impact of individual ministries and organizations, disseminating standards, norms and examples of best practice (e.g. standard methodologies for nutrition surveys, norms for supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs, standard content for seed packages, and payback mechanisms), and monitoring the implementation of a capacity building strategy.

Intersectoral coordination mechanisms and active partnerships can evolve into formal or informal support networks for household food security and nutrition during manmade crisis. These can raise awareness or promote advocacy among policy-makers, planners and donors about issues and activities regarding the food and nutrition situation in vulnerable areas and among vulnerable population groups.

The UN Secretary General’s message in 2015 and the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognize the central role of integrating approach in sustainable development. The integrated nature of the new agenda means that we need to better understand the connections between the building blocks of development. Each year, too many children under the age of five have their lives cut short or altered forever as a result of poor sanitation: more than 800,000 children worldwide --  or one every two minutes-- die from diarrhea, and almost half of all deaths of children under five are due to under nutrition. A quarter of all children under five are stunted, and countless other children, as well as adults, are falling seriously ill, often suffering long-term, even lifelong, health and developmental consequences. Parents and guardians carry the cost of these consequences. Women in particular women bear the direct brunt and mostly in conflict environment.

By working together, and by having an open and frank discussion on the importance of improving the nutrition of children under man made crisis, we can improve the health and well-being of one-third of the human family.

The International Conference is an opportunity to bring all the main stakeholders at National, Regional and International levels together to consolidate previous efforts, lessons learned and best practices so as to help to galvanize national action, and plan future strategies for the coming five years, in line with the efforts of the Ministry of Health, UN agencies such as UNICEF, WFP, WHO, FAO and related national and International organizations. It will be an opportunity to bring different actors and expose local ones to existing results and evidence of impact of strategies, approaches and interventions to promote child nutrition and health. 

We need to bring on board a range of other responses to ensure that nutrition and health services are adequate enough to prevent consequences of man-made crisis among this vulnerable group.

Objectives of the Conference:

  1. Provide a platform for Evidence-Based Knowledge and lessons sharing among key actors in child nutrition and Health, with a focus on children living in manmade crisis areas.
  2. Engage different National, Regional and International experts in highlighting experiences to meet the unfinished post-2015 developmental agenda related to child’s wellbeing.
  3. Engage different National, Regional and International experts to come out with concrete evidence based recommendations to inform future interventions and policies on child nutrition and health during manmade crisis.

Intended participants:

It is expected that a range of 150-200 participants will attend the 4 days of the conference. Other participants from Sudan and abroad may include:

  • High-level national Government representatives, including a proposed patron for the conference
  • High-level United Nations representatives (UN agencies)
  • High-level representatives of regional/continental and professional bodies
  • High-level representative(s) from donors
  • Members of the National Steering Committee.
  • Representatives from the other nutrition and health supported Programmes in Darfur and other conflict areas.
  • UNICEF and WHO Regional, Country and HQ staff.
  • International, regional and national researchers and experts on child Health and Nutrition.
  • International, regional and national NGOs.

Venue and Date:

Ahfad University for Women   6-8/12/2016

Theme:

Child Nutrition and man-made crisis

Suggested Sub-Themes:

-Sub-theme one: Food Security (A global call);

What is meant by food security in general, and what does it mean to children nutrition in particular? How far children living ordeal conditions in war-torn up countries become food-unsecured due to such environment.

-Sub-theme two: Food and nutrition for vulnerable groups;

Why children at certain age are classified as vulnerable to changes in food and nutritional policies of countries at risk? What are the major nutritional consequences these children are prone-to long term suffering.

-Sub-theme three: Children under nutritional stresses in war-torn up countries;

Effect(s) of civil war on household stability, concentration of family and community at large, and hoe the children sector of the family is always the main victim. Food resources in war-torn up countries are usually made unavailable to all. Medical care and rehabilitation programs for such children are also missing.

-Sub theme four: Experiences and practices of NGOs in countries living under man-made crisis;

Hundreds of NGOs are moving with limited resources trying to help save lives of thousands of children living in refugee or displaced camps and nutritionally at risk.

What sort of practices, limitations, and misunderstanding these organizations face during such process, and what kind of nutritional communication they would like to see in this regards. 

-Sub theme five: Experiences and practices of UN Agencies in countries living under man-made crisis;

UN Agencies are known for decades to participate in humanitarian efforts particularly with refugees’ issues. Recently, the number of people that need help under the latter sector is escalating. UN Agencies have the right to reflect their experience on matters related to children living in these camps, undergoing food and nutritional stresses as well as other related issues.

-Sub theme six: Extent of food Aid and tolerance of countries hosting children refugees;

Effect on hosting children refugees on the hosting nation’s behavior with the fact that the latter shall face economical and socio-cultural stresses for providing shelter, food, medical care, security….etc. for the former. However, level of tolerance, and kind of solutions attempted by these nations need to be shared with all participants.

Organizing committee:

The NHCTR Director and the Dean of the Health will be overseeing the overall process, supported by the members of the following committees:

  1. National Steering Committee (NSC).
  2. Scientific Committee (SC).
  3. Logistics & Media Committee (LMC).
  4. Financial Management (FM).
 

Terms of Reference for the National Steering Committee

The International Nutrition Conference on “Child Nutrition and man-made crisis in Sudan" is a scientific knowledge-sharing conference. It aims to promote knowledge- sharing and best practices in order to, enhance local actors' and policy makers’ ability in developing suitable plans that promote overall child health and nutrition. Hence, promote Sudan’s position in the international development agenda. To ensure that the conference meets its set aims and objectives the National Steering Committee (NSC) has been formed to oversee the organization for the conference.

The NSC is composed of experts from multiple national and international organizations, who are expected to:

  1. Approve the theme and sub-themes conference.
  2. Approve of keynote speech themes.
  3. Nominate and contact of Patron for Conference.
  4. Nominate chair persons, and key note speakers.
  5. Assist in more fund raising for delegates’ participation.
  6. Nominate invited experts & delegates.
  7. Nominate experts to be invited (self-supported)
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