By Tahia Asad of Purple Sheek Media
Bangladesh made remarkable progress in reducing the poverty rate by half over the last decade. Although the country has improved the status of nutrition of children under five in the past two decades; it still has a long way to go to combat malnutrition. Approximately 20 million people still live in extreme poverty. You can learn about challenges that remain as these 20 million continue to battle through nutrition, food insecurity, and poverty below:
- Bangladesh has the highest rate of underweight children in South Asia. One in two children below five years are chronically undernourished, and 14 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. WHO estimates that malnutrition leads to two in three deaths under the age of five.
- Out of the 50 million people who lack food security in Bangladesh, less than half have access to food safety net programs. Poor coverage, targeting, and administration have impacted the effectiveness of food programs.
- The national poverty rate fell in rural areas, but there was no progress in reducing extreme poverty in urban areas.
- The two lean seasons in Bangladesh worsen food insecurity, reduce food availability and employment opportunities for the rural poor.
- Food insecurity in Bangladesh stems from extreme poverty due to underemployment and unemployment, inadequate land access for cultivation, social exclusion, and natural disasters. Women and children are most affected by malnutrition and undernutrition.
- Approximately 24 percent of women are underweight, out of which 13 percent short in stature, significantly increasing the likelihood that their children will be too.
- Only 25 percent of children’s diets meet dietary variety standards.
- Sacrifices in food consumption for the sake of feeding children, particularly in times of scarcity, are highly gender-biased. In most cases, it is an adult woman who must make a sacrifice.
- Disproportionate poverty faced by women and children comes from discrimination and traditions of exclusion, thereby leaving them the most vulnerable.
- 50 percent of the salt produced in Bangladesh is not adequately iodized, rice dominates the diet and its low nutrient density likely contributes to the high rates of zinc deficiency.
- Environmental disasters if ignored could increase food insecurity. In addition to natural disasters that flood farms and cause rural unemployment, the lack of education and training in sustainable agricultural methods have caused soil degradation that impacts rice production.
Ways To Combat Hunger In Bangladesh
There are several ways to combat hunger:
- In the wake of the rising number of slums inhabited by the poor, more anti-poverty schemes need to be implemented to eradicate urban poverty alongside eliminating social problems such as child marriages and drug addiction.
- Investments to raise agricultural productivity and growth in the demand for salaried workers in the manufacturing and service sectors are crucial for maintaining growth in labor income. This is why BASMAH continues to train women and empowers them to run small businesses or join manufacturing and service sectors which can provide them with financial support.
- Emphasis needs to be placed on programs that focus on early childhood development in ways that integrate health and nutrition services, pre-school education, early stimulation and learning, and building skills that improve the employability of poor youth. BASMAH believes providing children with free education brings discipline and allows them to shape up a future where they can help themselves financially.
We believe it is crucial to formulate an effective plan of action as the need for freeing poor communities has become urgent. Join us and support the underprivileged people of Bangladesh by learning more about our projects and contributing. Every penny counts.