Nutritional status of children under 5 years of age in Bangladesh has improved steadily over the past decade, according to the USAID.
The level of stunting among children fewer than 5 has declined from 43 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2017.It also said the level of underweight has declined from 41 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2017, and after years of a critically high level of around 15 percent prevalence of wasting came down to 8 percent in 2017.
This was revealed at a virtual media roundtable with the USAID Feed the Future Rice and Diversified Crops Activity and the USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Nutrition Activity on Tuesday. During the event, John Smith-Sreen, Director, USAID/Office of Economic Growth, and other technical experts discussed progress toward increasing access to agricultural inputs and improving nutritional outcomes in Bangladesh.
Undernutrition is exacerbated by poor dietary diversity, poor sanitation, and hygiene. Gender inequality in decision-making related to household production and consumption also factors into the subsequent poor nutritional status of women and young children, the USAID observed.
To address these issues, the Feed the Future Bangladesh Nutrition Activity is working with a combination of market system development and social behavior change (SBC) approaches that empower market and community actors to address underlying causes of malnutrition in Bangladesh.
Through the Activity, children under five years of age, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescents learn ways to better meet their nutritional needs and practice healthier behaviors.
USAID said throughout the five years, the Activity is contributing to improved nutritional outcomes in selected upazilas of Bangladesh.The Activity is focused on three goals --increasing consumption of nutritious, diverse, and safe diets by rural households; increasing social and economic empowerment of women and adolescents; and improving the adoption of improved water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.
The goal of the five-year Feed the Future Bangladesh Rice and Diversified Crops Activity is to increase Bangladesh’s agricultural productivity and the production of diversified crops. To accomplish this goal, the Activity partners with agricultural companies to make productive agricultural inputs and services more accessible to farmers.
The Activity also seeks to incentivize farmers to adopt more effective cropping patterns by promoting crops that offer better economic or nutritional benefits to farmers: rice, maize, oilseeds, and legumes.