Suchana: Ending the cycle of undernutrition in Bangladesh
Suchana: "Ending the cycle of undernutrition in Bangladesh," a multisectoral food and nutrition security program (2015-2023) implemented through a consortium led by Save the Children and supported by three technical partners: Helen Keller International (HKI), International Development Enterprises (iDE), WorldFish (WF) and three implementing partners: Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS), Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Services (RDRS), while icddr,b was the research partner. This program was funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and the Delegation of the European Union (EU).
Suchana reached a population of 1.4 million from 235,579 poor and impoverished households living in the 20 upazilas and 157 unions in Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts. The program aimed to reduce the prevalence of stunting among children under two years of age by catalyzing efforts from the government and other relevant stakeholders.
Suchana followed five objectives of the program, which included improving nutrition governance, increasing access and utilization of nutrition-specific and sensitive services, tackling economic barriers to nutrition, building knowledge, skills, and power, and generating robust evidence of impact. Through these objectives, the program endeavored to increase poor and impoverished people's income through asset transfers and livelihood training to afford diversified foods, including year-round access to homegrown foods through horticulture and aquaculture production, poultry, or small livestock rearing. Suchana also endeavored to improve the optimal nutrition practices of pregnant and lactating women (PLW) and children by increasing the nutrition knowledge of PLW and the family's key decision makers, including peers.
From program evidence, Suchana identified eight best practices and initiated replication with support from GoB in Sunamganj and Habiganj districts in 2021. These best practices include climate-resilient and nutrition-sensitive horticulture practices; improved and nutrition-sensitive poultry rearing practices; adolescent transferable life skill intervention; improved and nutrition-sensitive aquaculture practices; expansion/scale of multisectoral nutrition programming in Bangladesh; improved quality and coverage of National Nutrition Service delivery on infant and young child feeding and maternal, child health and nutrition through microplanning; proper targeting of nutrition-sensitive social protection schemes under Union Parishads; and allocation of local Government of Bangladesh resources in Union Parishad.
Close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is crucial for Suchana's program activities. Suchana has been working with eight ministries: the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), Ministry of Agriculture (MoAg), Ministry of Food (MoF), Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MDMR), Ministry of Women and Child Affairs (MoWCA), Ministry of Social Welfare (MSW), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoF&L) and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLRD&C), as well as maintained close partnerships with the private sector and other development partners working in food and nutrition security. A few successes of the program include "Reduction of stunting among children under two years, 'inclusion of nutrition' into National Fisheries Policy (under revision); nutrition promotion through 4.1 million vegetable seed packets by GoB and Private seed companies, the inclusion of climate-smart technology in National Adaptation Plan (2023 2050); Union Parishad budget has been increased in health, nutrition, and disaster risk reduction; use of adolescent life skills, horticulture, and poultry modules by GoB; and inclusion of 79,674 poor households into social protection schemes. After seven and half years of program implementation, Suchana has closed by 31st December 2023.