Programme Specialist - Food and Feeding Practices

United Nations Children's Fund

Brussels, Belgium

How can you make a difference?

Under the supervision of the Senior Nutrition Adviser - Food Systems for Children, the Programme Specialist, Food and Feeding Practices, will strengthen UNICEF’s programming efforts on Food Systems for Children, which aim to improve child nutrition through food systems actions. The position will strongly focus on the prevention of childhood obesity, supporting the implementation of evidence-based policies with the highest potential to transform children’s food environments.

The Programme Specialist will use SBC methods and principles to support UNICEF work at national, regional, and global level on strengthening food systems plans, programmes and policies to prevent all forms of malnutrition: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity. He/she will work across the three Action Areas and will bring specific expertise on the food practices action area: improving children’s food practices through policies, strategies and programmes that promote positive individual behaviours, caregiver practices and social norms.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

Technical oversight and support

  • Steer UNICEF’s global efforts to develop, implement and monitor SBC strategies and programmes to improve the quality of children’s foods, food environments and food practices from early childhood, though the school years into adolescence, to prevent all forms of malnutrition across the life cycle, in line with the UNICEF Strategy 2020-2030.
  • Provide technical support to HQ, regional and country teams on the effective use of SBC to transform food systems for children strengthening the local production, normative environment and social marketing of nutrient-dense complementary foods, fortified foods, food supplements and therapeutic foods for children. This includes support to country teams to design and implement multi-system and multi-channel SBC approaches to prevent undernutrition children, adolescents, and women and to build the capacity of health providers and community-based workers to counsel women, men, and caregivers on maternal nutrition.
  • Provide technical assistance to HQ, regional and country teams in developing and implementing actions to transform policies, regulations, and environments for the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity.
  • Support the integration of SBC and systems thinking to strengthen iodine deficiency disorders prevention and control programmes, supporting advocacy efforts with national and regional authorities for adequate iodine nutrition at both national and sub national levels, based on context specific analysis of the food systems, especially where pockets of iodine deficiency and excess iodine intake coexist.
  • In collaboration with UNICEF Regional Offices, the SBC Global Technical Team, and partners, provide remote and direct technical field support on the transformation of food systems for children’s nutrition and development, including food practices.

Capacity Strengthening and learning

  • Contribute to develop a compelling narrative on food systems for children and women with nutrient-dense complementary foods, fortified foods, food supplements and therapeutic foods integrated within and underpinned by an understanding of behavioral science and systems thinking, for sustainable policies and adequate private sector practices and products.
  • Create greater awareness and use of new and emerging SBC methods and techniques to inform and improve efforts on food systems actions to deliver nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets for children in all programming settings – including for children living in development, fragile and humanitarian contexts.
  • Lead and coordinate UNICEF’s knowledge generation and knowledge management function as it relates to UNICEF’s SBC efforts and actions in transforming food systems for children’s nutrition and development.
  • Support knowledge generation and knowledge management related to children’s food environments for the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity.
  • Identify and plan training and learning opportunities for staff and partners on new and innovative SBC approaches to support the transformation of food systems, including behavioral public policy, behavioral data science, social marketing, critical social marketing, behavioral insights, human centered design, social listening, and social accountability mechanisms. This includes supporting the roll-out of a regional e-blended learning programme on SBC, in collaboration with regional partners, with a focus on maternal nutrition.

Global Advocacy, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization

  • Support the Senior Nutrition Adviser, Food Systems for Children in the development of advocacy strategies – including public advocacy and communication – to support UNICEF vision to transform food systems for children in the global arena and in support of relevant initiatives related to G7, G20, N4G among others.
  • Support the Nutrition Specialist, Childhood Obesity Prevention, in the implementation of relevant advocacy actions at global, regional, and country level.
  • Represent Nutrition and Child Development programme Group in UNICEF’s Social and Behaviour Change Global Technical Team.
  • Contribute to the establishment and strengthening of strategic SBC partnerships for transforming food systems and prevent childhood overweight and obesity at international level with UN agencies, implementing organisations, donors, academia, media, INGOs, local CSOs and other relevant organizations to promote SBC nutrition programmes and assist in developing the same at regional and country levels.
  • Create new opportunities for and support global resource mobilisation in SBC for Nutrition, increase donors’ interest in the added value of integrating SBC into nutrition programmes and confidence in UNICEF’s ability to deliver them.

The following minimum requirements:

  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in social and behavioral sciences, including sociology, anthropology, marketing, psychology and/or related field is required. 
  • A minimum of eight years of relevant progressively responsible professional experience at the national and international levels in developing, implementing, evaluating, and managing social and behavioral change strategies for nutrition is required.
  • Proven ability to work with internal and external stakeholders at multiple levels, including providing technical support and capacity building and establishing/managing external partnerships.
  • Proven ability to use new and innovative methods for SBC to transform food systems, such as systems thinking, critical social marketing, and social research.