Food security is defined as having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. A family is food secure when its members do not live in hunger or fear of hunger. Between 14-27 per cent, the proportion of women who could make their own decisions about major household purchases increased from 24.8 per cent to 48.4 per cent; food purchases from 44.0 per cent to 69.3 per cent; food preparation from 77.0 per cent to 83 per cent; their own healthcare from 51.0 per cent to 72.3 per cent; their children’s healthcare from 57.6 per cent to 75.5 per cent; and visiting their family and relatives from 42.8 per cent to 61.1 per cent.

Besides, minimum dietary diversity among women of reproductive age (15-49 years of age) was significantly higher at endline evaluation, reaching 53 per cent compared to 27 per cent at baseline.

ASG Faruque, emeritus scientist, Nutrition and Clinical Services Division, icddr,b delivered the presentation on the findings from the evaluation as conducted by icddr,b. This was followed by a presentation by Tahmeed Ahmed, executive director, icddr,b on policy and programmatic recommendations based on the findings.

Planning minister Abdul Mannan, MP, was present at the event as chief guest. He said, “Collective effort is required to help the country prevail in overcoming the challenges we currently face. We have many programmes in nutrition, food security and we have achieved a lot of success as a result of collaborative efforts. But we have many miles to go, and collaboration is the key. The government is keen to make changes in the food security, nutrition, and poverty sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Guest of honour professor Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad (chairman, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation) said, “We have made so many remarkable gains in development, poverty alleviation and improvement of healthcare services. But the extremely poor population in the country are still left out and we need to include them, giving them the most basic needs pertaining to food, nutrition and WASH”.

Special guest Maurizio Cian (Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Bangladesh) said, “The rate of stunting and wasting is still very high in Bangladesh. Multi-sectoral management and investment in this field needs to be further enhanced.”

Special guest Judith Herbertson (Development Director, FCDO Bangladesh) said “The UK remains very strongly committed to addressing issues relating to nutrition. While poverty and many other development goals have been addressed, undernutrition continues to be a fundamental challenge in Bangladesh. This has been made worse because of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. Suchana will contribute to the Government of Bangladesh’s 8th five-year plan, making lasting impact in the lives of the programme’s beneficiaries. Hopefully, this impact will continue beyond the programme”.

Suchana is a large-scale, multi-sector nutrition programme targeting 235,500 poor and very poor households, reaching 1.4 million people in Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts in Bangladesh.

It is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the European Union (EU). The programme aims to reduce stunting among children under-two years and catalyse support across government and other stakeholders for a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to undernutrition nationally.

Working in partnership with the Bangladesh government, the Suchana consortium consists of Save the Children, and seven consortium members offering a range of specialised programme and technical expertise: Helen Keller International, World Fish, International Development Enterprise (iDE), Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS), Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Services (RDRS) along with research partner icddr,b.

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