Joint UN project to eradicate hunger and undernutrition launched

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Dhaka, 5 May 2011 – Three United Nations agencies and the Government of Bangladesh have come together to implement a joint programme to promote food security and nutrition for ultra-poor families and children in the country.

Through the project, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will work together to provide a combined set of inputs to reduce food insecurity and undernutrition amongst families and children in three Upazilas – Manpura, Charfasson and Bamna, under Barguna and Bhola districts. The programme will provide agricultural and livestock inputs, food, nutrition and educational assistance to 18,000 undernourished children under five, pregnant and lactating women, 42,000 primary school children, and 46,500 members of poor households affected by the high food prices.

“This integrated programme is a joint effort of five different Ministries, three UN agencies (WFP, UNICEF and FAO) and NGO partners, in addressing the multiple dimensions of food insecurity and undernutrition amongst children and women. Since the dynamics of population, health, nutrition and food security are composite in nature, the programme should simultaneously address all of these through more policy integration and programme convergence. A realistic approach by the Government and UN agencies is needed to eradicate poverty and hunger, especially amongst children and mothers, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 1,” said Mr, Shawkat Akbar, Additional Divisional Commissioner of Barisal, at the divisional level inception workshop in Barisal on 4 May 2011.

The three-year programme is funded by the Millennium Development Goal Achievement Fund (MDG-F), established with the contribution of the Spanish Government to support joint UN efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The programme has two interrelated goals of increasing food security and reducing undernutrition in the selected areas.

Activities will include community based management of acute undernutrition, school feeding, homestead gardening, livestock rearing, income-generating activities and provision of supplementary food assistance to children and women. The programme will work with the health system to identify local strategies in preventing and managing undernutrition.

Primary school students in the programme area will receive a school snack (high energy biscuits) and training in creating and caring for school gardens. School children will also benefit from participating in specially designed learning sessions on health, hygiene and sanitation and nutrition.

A National Inception Workshop for the programme was held in Dhaka on 28 March 2011, where Chief Guest Mr. M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD) said, “Following a series of natural disasters and the global economic downturn, resulting in the volatile food prices, the country’s challenge of achieving food security and nutritional goals is greater than ever and we are grateful to WFP, UNICEF and FAO for initiating such a programme.”

The Economic Relations Division is the coordinating agency for the programme. The programme will involve the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Food and Disaster Management, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, and Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs. MuslimAid and Shushilan are the implementing NGOs of the project.