Malnutrition in Bangladesh: New Report Published

Sunday 8 March 2015

Rates of malnutrition in Bangladesh are among the highest in the world, with six million children estimated to be chronically undernourished.[1] The decline in chronic malnutrition[2] seen previously – from 60% in 1997 to 41% in 2011 – now appears to be slowing down. Policies and practice in Bangladesh need to have a greater focus on nutrition,[3] at large scale and across different sectors, in order to accelerate progress on tackling the country’s substantial malnutrition burden of 41% stunting and 16% wasting[4] across a population of 156.5 million.[5]

Social protection is a means for states to protect their most vulnerable citizens.[6] Bangladesh’s current social protection system is fragmented and ineffective – in 2010 reaching just 35% of those living below the poverty line.[7] As the Government of Bangladesh leads a significant reform of its National Social Security Strategy and develops its 7th Five Year Plan, harnessing the potential of social protection for nutrition is vital.

Produced in partnership with the Civil Society Alliance for Scaling Up Nutrition (CSA for SUN BD) a new report Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable  presents a tangible opportunity is presented for the development of nutrition-sensitive social protection to improve malnutrition in Bangladesh. This report marks a major step forward in Save the Children’s knowledge base and expertise on nutrition-sensitive social protection – an underutilised policy solution for malnutrition and central to our hunger, nutrition and livelihoods work.

Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable  explores the impact of social protection across nutrition pathways. It makes recommendations for policy development and implementation in Bangladesh and for global learning.  The report guides the reader through a pathways approach to understand how developing social protection across the lifecycle, with a greater focus on nutrition behaviour change, adolescent girls, empowering women and the 1,000-day window of opportunity between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday, will help shape healthier and more prosperous futures for all.  In doing so, essential lessons are shared on an integrated approach to tackling malnutrition through social protection internationally, the importance of national systems and contextual programme design.  

For more details please contact Julie Newton or Katherine Richards

[1] DHS, 2011. UN population project, Save the Children calculation. Estimated for 2011.

[2] Measured by stunting, defined as height for age below international growth standards

[3] Ruel, M. T., Alderman, H., and the Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition. The Lancet, 2013. Published online June 6. 6736(13)60843-0.

[4] DHS, 2011. Demographic and Health Survey, Bangladesh DHS

[5] UN, 2013. World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Highlights and Advance Tables, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division: 51

[6] This is confirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Labour Organization’s constitution and legal instruments on social security.

[7] Kidd, S., Khondker, B., 2013. Scoping Report on Poverty and Social Protection in Bangladesh