Bangladesh: Protecting and Promoting Food Security and Nutrition for Families and Children in Bangladesh

Despite the progress made by Bangladesh in the economic, health and social arenas, improvements in the nutritional status of children and women have been less impressive. The Joint Programme's aim was to improve nutrition and food security for vulnerable children and caregivers in one of the most impoverished areas of Bangladesh, the Barisal Division, which has a high prevalence of stunting and underweight and where almost all children under the age of two years were found to be anemic. 

Specifically, the programme sought to reduce underweight and malnutrition in children 6-59 months and acute malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women through:

  1. Homestead food production;
  2. In-kind food transfers;
  3. Community-based management of acute malnutrition;
  4. School feeding and gardening; and
  5. Strengthening food security and nutrition information systems.

Main achievements included:

  • The programme's targeting of agricultural, health and educational inputs in particularly vulnerable coastal areas of southern Bangladesh resulted in an almost total elimination of young child wasting in program areas, a significant but smaller reduction in malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women, and significant improvements in household food security.
  • The prevalence of severe acute malnutrition in children under age 5 fell to zero from initial prevalence rates of between 2.12% and 0.89%, rising subsequently only to 0.02% and 0.04%. Moderate acute malnutrition fell from between 9 and 11% to 1% with rare occasions of relapse. Malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women using mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tapes fell less sharply – from 7.0% to 5.1%.
  • The programme also improved household food consumption. The percentage of households in program areas with gardens increased more than four-fold, and the percentage of household income derived from gardens and poultry increased more than three times, from 2.7% at baseline to 9.3% at end line. The percentage of households consuming eggs or meat on the day previous to the survey more than doubled (from 20.4% to 44.1%), while the percentage consuming a milk product increased significantly from 16.8 to 24.7%.
  • Monitoring of the school program found significant increases in both enrollment and attendance.
  • The initiative improved nutrition and food security-related data and information and produced an important health/nutrition assessment of urban slums in the country, a valuable mapping exercise and studies on women’s empowerment and MUAC. It also permitted the development of an integrated database likely to be useful in future multi-sectoral pursuits.


Click here for more detailed results of the Joint Programmes in Bangladesh.


The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 16 Mar 2010 - 30 Jun 2013
Net funded amount $8,084,873
Participating UN agencies WFP, UNICEF, FAO
National partners Coordinating Agency Economic Relations Division (ERD)-Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Women’s and children's affairs (MOWCHA); Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW); Ministry of Agriculture (MOAG); Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MOFLS); Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME); Ministry of Food (MOF); Department of Livestock (DLS); Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE); Save the Children; Shushilan; Muslim Aid UK
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