The formative evaluation of the PPAN under the NEDA-UNDP Strategic Monitoring and Evaluation Project was conducted to determine to what degree LGUs have applied the PPAN 2017-2022 strategic thrusts in nutrition programming. It pointed out some successes of the PPAN such as the 1) LGU mobilization as measured by the support to PPAN programs at the national, regional and provincial levels, and 2) sustained nutrition action planning processes at the national level. It also described challenges or constraints inhibiting effective nutrition planning, coordination, and delivery. 

Mr. Peter Srouji, Senior Research Manager of the Innovations for Poverty Action presented other key findings and recommendations of this formative evaluation during the 2nd National Evaluation Policy (NEP) Forum held virtually on 3 November 2020. He pointed out that some of their recommendations are to strengthen the credibility of the Operation Timbang Plus (OPT+), focus more efforts at the barangay level, sharpen messages around stunting, and strengthen programs that address stunting.

One of the reactors invited by the Senate Economic Planning Office was the Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang, MD, MCH, CESE. The Executive Director acknowledged the presence of data quality issues connected with OPT+, which are exhibited in low coverages and incomplete data. In connection with this, she reiterated some of the efforts to address these such as the shift from a manual system of data collation, calculation and reporting into an Excel-based electronic system, as well as procurement of weight and height measuring tools. However, Dr. Dayanghirang pointed out that addressing these issues cannot be done by merely computerizing the system. It requires a supportive environment and needs investment to hire BNSs, build their capacities on proper measurement techniques, buy appropriate measuring tools and computers to use the electronic tool. Thus, it is necessary to make nutrition an equally important program with funding complement.

On the recommendation about focusing more at the barangay level, Dr. Dayanghirang stressed that the NNC continues to provide support to barangay nutrition workers to effectively deliver nutrition services, which includes orientation on the use of various tools to generate data for identification of appropriate interventions. The NNC also continues to train and retrain BNSs despite fast turnovers in human resource for nutrition due to varying reasons. Moreover, in 2019, the NNC conducted local nutrition action planning workshops to 28 HDPRC provinces to ensure that LGUs are oriented on PPAN programs and that nutrition is integrated in their local development and investment plans. Various action planning workshops in non-PPAN priority provinces using the online platform are also being conducted.

Lastly, on the recommendations on sharpening messages and strengthening programs that address stunting, Dr. Dayanghirang emphasized that this year's Nutrition Month celebration focused on stunting with the theme “Batang Pinoy, SANA TALL… Iwas stunting, SAMA ALL!" Actions to achieve the objectives of the celebration have been sustained throughout the year. Dissemination of key messages on stunting were and are being conducted using a combination of channels such as through interpersonal communication at the community level through nutrition education classes, NNC's 50 Nutriskwela Community Radio stations nationwide, First 1000 days PH Facebook page, and NNC Home Online Nutrition Exchange, among others. Many programs are also geared towards addressing stunting. In fact, the 32 PPAN focus provinces were selected mainly because of their high prevalence of stunting among children under 5 years old.  These areas were also adopted as priorities of the Interagency Task Force Zero Hunger and the Expanded Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP).

The 2nd NEP Forum was organized by the Senate Economic Planning Office and the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives. Read more about the 2nd NEP Forum here

(Kristine T. Vitasa, EA, OED)