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Who are our "Champions"? how do you recognize them, how are we engaging with them?

This question was posted the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) forum area and has 3 replies.

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Cecilia Ruberto

Learning Route program coordinator / SUN CSN

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20 Apr 2016, 12:57

Dear all,
This is to open up a topic that I find extremely important to foster our learning, to enhance mutual support, to be more effective, efficient, motivated, connected to each other, to strength our willingness to innovate our way of work...: I would love to know what you think about it.

I am involved in coordinating a learning program within the SUN Civil Society Network to support cross learning among alliances ("Learning Route program", ).
As you can imagine "Champions" and "Best Practices" are 2 important ingredients of "our" learning recipe.

In my thinking and within the learning route approach (delineated by ) "Champions are people with valuable knowledge, usually practical, that stand within their organization or community for their ways of doing things, their knowledge and innovative leadership on development initiatives that positively impact their own context".

Hence: Champions = Agents of Change

With our program we would like to enhance the capacities of our Champions to become "trainers" of who might want to enhance her/his expertise on that field.

My question for you:
1 - How do you recognize a Champion?
2 - What characteristics do you think a champion should have?
3 - Did you feel we are using enough this inestimable resource we have in-house? Can you share some examples?
4 - How could we do more/better?

Your inputs and ideas will be precious to feed a long term strategy that wants to establish sustainable mechanisms to foster mutual support, empowerment of individuals, organizations and networks.

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Please join the Learning Route Facebook group if you want to influence and know what is going on within the learning program!
If in any moment you want to discuss about this topic, please get in contact:


SUN CSN - Learning Route program coordinator

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13 May 2016, 13:32

My key take away points about Champions involvement and role in scaling up nutrition from the the 23rd SUN Movement Country Call (15/5/2016) – Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, ENN, SUN Movement:

- Champions are individuals that: are passionate of the topic, have capacity to effectively influence, are opinion leaders, willing to give time to prioritize nutrition. Champions are self-driven, results oriented (“opportunistic”). Champions are able to communicate and/or demonstrate with actions the importance of nutrition.

- Once you find a person with those attributes…. you “pick it up” and develop collaboration. It is key for us to make them able to let be able to sustain the effort. We should contribute in building his/her confidence in speaking out loud, transmitting her/his expertise and reach out even more people, influence even more the people around her/him.

We must support his/her effort boosting communication skills, technical knowledge; keep them always up to date with news and relevant news and evidences.

- Local champions and “high-level political” champions have a key role in “accelerating, propagating” our plans, they are key in helping us in “shaping and re-shaping” our actions and approach and connecting us to remote stakeholders.

What else do you think is needed to enhance and potentiate champions’ effort/effects?

How can we build around them a vibrant, stimulating and enabling environment?

Thank you to all the participants to the inspiring discussions.

Claire Blanchard

SUN CSN coordinator

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13 May 2016, 15:27

Hi all,

please also check out some of the great work CSAs have been doing in engaging and mobilising champions to date:
- MPTF annual report 2014 & - MPTF evaluation (annex 9) accessible on
- Some key impacts also showcased on a map -
- A lot in news pieces published on the SUN website -
- SUN in practice brief on social mobilisation, advocacy and communications - available at
- Transform nutrition champions -
- Sustainable Development champions -

Just thought it would be good to sign post to some of these great existing resources.

Titus Mung'ou

ENN Knowledge Management Specialist

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14 May 2016, 03:50

Thanks Cecilia, Claire and Colleagues

The role of Nutrition Champions in advancing the nutrition agenda among audiences we cannot impact enough using our technical knowledge/skills, is vital.

My experience working with Nutrition Champions in Kenya:

1. Develop criteria to identify good champions to sustain the nutrition agenda. Some have relevant knowledge, others should be nurtured to embrace nutrition while many more are identified based on their status and influence in the society.

2. Diversity of champions is crucial. We need champions to influence the young (in schools, colleges), celebrities to reach millions through sports and entertainment industry, opinion leaders and politicians to influence their constituents and experts to create an impact among the technical community. Politicians or opinion leaders play an important role in pushing nutrition agenda at times contributing to policy changes and allocation of more resources. With well-articulated research findings and evidence, these champions can transform the nutrition landscape at any level.

3. Nutrition Champion as an office (structure) or individual. In some cases, it is possible to identify the Champion as an office e.g. The President or First Lady, to accommodate political transitions during the election circle. As discussed yesterday during SUN Country calls, individual nutrition champions are those with passion in nutrition issues and often sustain the agenda beyond political regimes, daily duties etc.

4. Nutrition champions as institutions. It is possible to identify an institution to spearhead a nutrition agenda, to be the face of nutrition and take lead in influencing other institutions. Such institution aught to be an example for best practices and we seek to impart to the community.

5. Nutrition champions in context. The champions work within different contexts and different settings - their identification and roles should be suitable to the context at hand.

Will be good to read Cecilia's comments and references materials provided by Claire, to understand more the country experiences and progress made working with nutrition champions.

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