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The latest UN report on hunger says that approximately 870 million people in the world suffer from chronic malnutrition, which means that in spite of the rapid development of food’s technology, such a vital issue as hunger is not completely solved. According to International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (n.d.), the most suffering regions are Asia and Africa, and there is a reduction of undernourishment in South Asia on the whole, but the rate of undernourished children is still high – 38 to 51 percent in comparison to Sub-Saharan Africa’s 26 percent.
Bangladesh is the country in South Asia that has made a significant progress in fighting with hunger, nevertheless, accordingly to International Food Research Institute has 19.4 value of Global Hunger Index, which means ‘serious’ in severity scale (International Food Policy Research Institute 2013). Thence, this country deserves extra attention, and this essay will evaluate one possible solution for decreasing malnourishment in Bangladesh. In order to manage with the malnutrition government settled program ‘The Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (HPNSDP)’ (2011-2016), and now the current rate of reduction of underweight is 1.
27 percentage points per year; however, this rate is not enough to eliminate this problem by 2016.
To achieve the program’s target to decrease underweight to 33 percent, the percentage of reduction has to be increased by 50 percent (Keller and Grant 2010 quoted in Transform Nutrition, 2011). Despite of taken actions, such as promoting early breastfeeding, cooking on A-vitamin oil and iodinated salt, due to restricted diet, eating not iron-rich food, malnutrition cannot be effectively reduced.
This problem needs systematical approach, because the malnourishment is caused by several reasons and one solution cannot fix all of them; ergo, it is a proposal of one of the potential solutions.
Successful experience in Thailand could be useful for Bangladesh (Fifth NESDP). The main reason why it is suggested to use Thai program is because of similarity in climatic conditions, both of the countries have tropical monsoon climate. One of the policies for preventing hunger was promoting eating nutritious food and producing it in villages and rural areas through such deeds as home agriculture, growing of fruit trees, cultivation of legumes and sesames, fish impoundments and poultry (Kachondham et al 1992 quoted in Right to Food Campaign, n.d.).
As it is mentioned in the introduction, children are in the most deplorable situation, but their condition directly depends on condition of women, because the high rate of undernourished women consequently leads to the births of underweight children. Therefore, female group is the target group and particularly women have to take part in these events. Instead of such short-term solutions as humanitarian aid, it may be suggested to invest into small farms, where females can take part. Government or international charity organizations should arrange a program and organization for developing small forms of agriculture, perhaps, with an involvement of foreign aid. Firstly, females have to be trained how to grow another types of culture, except rice.
Specialists from close border countries could participate. In addition, resources, for instance, seed, seedlings, fertilizers and other equipment should be provided on free base. One of the Thai programs is ‘The Social Marketing of Vitamin A-Rich Foods’ demonstrated that home gardening has a huge potential. It might give long-term and significant effects.
For example, “Fat and vitamin A intake in the intervention area also showed statistically significant increases among pregnant women (from 201 + 425 retinol equivalents (RE)* in 1989 to 428 + 391 RE in 1991) and among lactating mothers (from 269 +355 RE in 1989 to 476 +618 RE in 1991)” (Attig et al 1993, quoted in Food and Agriculture Organization 1993).
Another positive outcome – for Bangladesh the effect of women involvement in homestead agriculture in 2000 and 2008 was analyzed and the findings showed that for the part of families where women have taken significant participation activity in home gardening had an increase in income by 11%. Which means that rise in income may affect another malnutrition causes such as poverty and broaden access to different health services. At the same time the houses in which females have not participated in agriculture experienced a decrease by about 20% (Jaim and Hossain 2011, 10).
Furthermore, it may improve women’s status in Bangladesh, where official religion is Islam. According to Waikakul (1995, 120) in Thailand females who are working in agriculture got involved in different social processes such as “borrowing money, contacting banks, attending meetings, and participating in technical training programs” which made their role in society more influential. The possible disadvantage might be the natural cataclysms such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones etc. It happens from time to time and difficult to predict.
Probably it could be solved by making food supplies from harvests’ surplus in every village by people themselves, then, in case of a disaster, casualties would receive help immediately, instead of waiting for humanitarian aid. Another one is corruption; Bangladesh has serious problems in this field and ranked as 144 country in ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2012’ (Transparency International, 2012). Therefore, it is suggested that the control of that problem, where international investments are, has to be in the hands of non-governmental organization but in cooperation with Bangladesh’s government.
This paper sharpened the focus on one of the most crucial issues in Bangladesh and suggested the solution, which is based on the other country’s successful experience. This would reduce the malnutrition among women population, what in turn would help to decrease child malnutrition. The paper analyzed advantages and disadvantages of that proposal and offered the ways in order to avoid those drawbacks.
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