Bangladesh has made significant strides in reducing child malnutrition among the developing countries, especially in the Asian region, according to a US-based research body.
From 59 per cent in 1990, the figure slid to 41 per cent in 2011 and further reduced to 36 per cent in child stunting, said Dr Akhter Ahmed, team leader of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) at a press meet in Dhaka on Tuesday, commemorating its 40th anniversary in Bangladesh.
Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI headquarters in Washington DC, and Teunis van Rheenen also spoke at the press meet.
Ahmed, however, lamented that Bangladesh remains slow in progressing in important areas such as hunger reduction, better nutrition, good sanitation, environmental sustainability and certain aspects of gender parity. Bangladesh has been a role model in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he added.
According to Dr Fan, Bangladesh's food security and nutrition require more attention. "Nevertheless, as Bangladesh has successfully halved hunger in a period between 1990 and 2014, I'm optimistic that the country can end under-nutrition by 2025," he said.
Appreciating Bangladesh's successive governments, Ahmed said most countries in the world ignore policy reforms based on research on alternative modalities of social safety net to protect the poor from hunger.
Bangladesh has integrated nutrition in safety net mechanism, an innovative programme, which has yield positive response in reducing hunger, said Dr Ahmed.
Dr Fan, in response to a journalist's query, said projecting a target of zero percentage of child stunting would be far from reality. Even the United States and Europe could not reduce child stunting under 5 per cent.
The Ministry of Agriculture with technical collaboration of IFPRI are working together to design a programme which will include agriculture to nutrition to empower women and ensure gender sensitisation, Dr Ahmed told the press.
The programme 'Compact2025' is expected to be launched in November next, which will enable the government to scale up efforts to tackle hunger and under- nutrition and also share Bangladesh's experience with other developing countries, said Dr Fan.
The new innovative programme will serve as a global knowledge and innovation hub to experiment by sharing evidence for pragmatic, action-oriented strategies to eliminate hunger and under-nutrition by 2025, Dr Fan further said.