The good news is that Bangladesh has made lots of progress in improving levels of nutrition, with the number of underweight children under five having halved in the past 15 years. The bad news is that there are still communities who aren’t being reached. 14% of under five’s experience wasting and 13% of married women show significant stunted growth.
The main causes of malnutrition are poor household food security and diet diversity, inadequate maternal and child care, insufficient services and an unhealthy environment. Extensive research has shown the undisputed importance of good nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life, from conception to two years of age. Good nutrition is also fundamental to a country’s development as undernutrition is a leading cause of lifelong harm to productivity and earning potential.
This April we will be working with United Purpose as part of their project to reduce malnutrition and stunting among 38,400 pregnant and lactating women and children under two years of age by providing increased access to information and nutrition services in the Bhola, Laxmipur and Noakhali districts.
Our April 1% will be used in a number of ways.
Firstly it will train 20 ‘Community Nutrition Promoters’. These informal health workers will be able to share their knowledge on nutrition with households within their community and increase the access to health and nutrition services available at government centres by raising community awareness.
Then it will be used to establish a Women’s Information Centre in a remote community. Female entrepreneurs will be offered the opportunity to set up their own business and will be supported through training, guidance and initial equipment investment. They will offer a ‘one- stop shop’ for rural women including access to nutrition and health services and their founders will receive training in:
• Basic nutrition, safe food prep and storage
• How to grow protein and nutrient rich agricultural produce
• Business skills
Finally it will help design and develop an App which Community Nutrition Promoters can use to identify and target at-risk women and children and provide a crucial link to services provided by the Women’s Information Centre.