European Union, Government of Bangladesh for enhancing good nutrition through good governance

The European Union flags flutter ahead of the gas talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on 19 September, 2019Reuters

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh organised a high-level event in collaboration with the Partners of the Food and Nutrition Security Programme for Bangladesh, stated a press release.

The event, titled "The European Union and the Government of Bangladesh in Partnership for Good Nutrition through Good Governance" was held at Westin hotel in Dhaka and counted with the participation of government and non-government organisations.

Agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque was the chief guest for the morning session and highlighted that the ministry of agriculture has made it a priority to develop a self-sufficient and sustainable agricultural system while aiming to achieve this through increased agricultural productivity, modernisation of agricultural marketing and the adoption of new technologies.

Meanwhile, principal secretary at the prime minister’s office M Tofazzel Hossain Miah was the chief guest in the afternoon session. He said, “It is essential for nutrition security to be driven by the government of Bangladesh with a strong political will and explicit commitments by leaders to end malnutrition in all its forms. This cannot be achieved without sustainable, resilient and nutrition-sensitive food system.”

The welcome remarks were delivered by Jurate Smalskyte Merville, counsellor and team leader of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh while the closing remarks were delivered by EU ambassador to Bangladesh, Charles Whiteley.

Both of the EU Delegates highlighted the importance of food and nutrition security across Bangladesh based on achievements shared during the event. They emphasised the importance of continuing the support and investments to the FNS interventions through GO-NGO, Private Sector, UN agencies and CSOs.

In addition, the director general of Food Planning and Monitoring Unit, Momtaz Uddin and the director general of Bangladesh National Nutrition Council, Shahriar Kabir highlighted the importance of multi-sector partnership as well as the building capacity of subnational governance structure.

Sarah Cooke, British high commissioner and Md Mahmudul Hossain Khan, secretary of coordination and reforms at the Cabinet Division were among the special guests.

The event consisted of three panel sessions, first of which was on production to consumption of nutritious food. Panellists included secretaries from the Ministry of Agriculture (Wahida Akter), Ministry of Food (Md Ismiel Hossain) and additional secretary for the ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (Md Aminul Islam). It was moderated by Sattar Mandal, former member of the planning commission and former vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Agriculture University.  

The second panel session was on the topic how social protection and education interventions can maximise nutrition outcomes. Panel members included secretaries from the Ministry of Social Welfare (Md Jahangir Alam), Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (Nazma Mobarek), and additional secretaries from Ministry of Education (Md Belayet Hossain Talukdar) and Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (Mustakim Billah Faruqui). The second session was moderated by professor Kazi Maruful Islam of the department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.

The topic for the third panel session was mainstreaming nutrition throughout planning, budgeting and implementation. Panellists included secretaries from the Planning Commission (Abdul Baki), Health Services Division (Md Anwar Hossain Howlader) and Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (Nahid Rashid) along with additional secretaries from Ministry of Finance (Dilruba Shaheena) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Asrafi Ahmed). The session was moderated by Tahmeed Ahmed, executive director at icddr,b.

The current Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) Programme is part of the longstanding collaboration between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) in the FNS sector.

The FNS Programme has been instrumental in improving maternal and child nutrition in Bangladesh since its inception in 2016. With a primary focus on strengthening the nutrition governance at both national and sub-national level, the programme encompasses seven interventions.

Through these interventions, the FNS Programme has been supporting the GoB to promote a multi-sectoral response to malnutrition and the operationalisation of the nutrition governance system, which are both at the core of the National Nutrition Policy (NNP, 2015) and the National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN 2, 2016-2025).

The FNS Programme has played a significant role in promoting a multi-sector approach and building synergies among some key actors of the above-mentioned system. The implementing partners of the FNS programme have indeed supported several government departments and agencies of eight ministries to deliver their nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive activities.

These Ministries are as follows: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Food, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

The FNS experience is a successful example of effective multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral and multi-level cooperation for a better nutrition outcome by overcoming policy silos. The FNS’ Implementing Partners have supported the GoB to operationalise NPAN 2 in twelve districts and sixty-seven upazillas.

The positive achievements reached through the partnership between the GoB and the EU could be scaled up to facilitate the fully operationalisation of the nutrition governance system in the entire country.