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Fostering Youth Engagement for a Well-nourished World

05/05/2019

As part of engaging youth and adolescents to spearhead the United Nation’s Zero Hunger Challenge and celebrating the National Nutrition Week, the Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH) Project and the Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) Foundation, Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) of the Ministry of Food, organised the Nutrition Olympiad 2019 at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Dhaka on 27 April 2019. The Olympiad was the third of a series of annual events organized since 2017 for youth and adolescents. It was attended by more than 900 participants, including nutrition, agriculture and health experts, policymakers, development partners, civil society and the private sector.

The Olympiad was aimed at fostering youth networks in advocating the improvement of nutritional status for all and finding innovative ways to improve nutrition awareness and behaviour, especially among youth and adolescents. The event also provided a platform to discuss the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 and a Bangladesh Food and Nutrition Security Policy under formulation and to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through participatory activities such as a cooking competition, street plays, a food design contest, and an open internet challenge.

In the Inaugural Ceremony, the Chief Guest, Dr. Md. Abdur Razzaque, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, said ‘Production is increasing, keeping pace with increased food demand, driven by the population growth. Bangladesh is committed to ensure access to safe and nutritious foods for its population’. The Hon’ble Minister commended the youth as future leaders, their significant involvement in development and congratulated them for coming together under a common platform. Mr. Sadhan Chandra Majumder, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Food, echoed the remarks made by the Chief Guest and assured the youth that the current Government is committed to supporting their innovative ideas and their participation in the national efforts to achieve national and global development goals.

Mr. Manfred Fernholz, Acting Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh emphasized the role of youth in driving the change in the nutrition agenda. He encouraged them to be in the forefront for advocating good nutrition, especially through good food habits and correct food preparation. Mr. Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh stressed the importance of shaping food choices towards healthy diets for improving nutrition, especially for youth and adolescents. He highlighted various initiatives taken by FAO to improve youth and adolescents, such as the Nutrition Challenge Badge and the development of tools to integrate nutrition education into school curricula.

Meanwhile, H.E. Earl R. Miller, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, visited the “Master Chef Youth” cooking competition and was impressed to see the recipes prepared by the youth. In his remarks to the youth, he said “all people should have access to a variety of safe and nutritious foods, and to the knowledge they need to make healthy diet choices. The youth participating here today are setting an example for everyone and are key to promoting good nutrition in Bangladesh”.

The Closing Ceremony announced 20 youth as the winners of the various competitions, including two students who won the FAO 2018 World Food Day Poster Contest out of some 10,000 entries from all over the world. In celebrating the achievements of the youth, the Chief Guest, Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, Hon’ble State Minister, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, stressed the need to build youth awareness and knowledge on nutrition by using digital platforms. He assured the youth that the ICT Division along with other concerned ministries will support students through educational institutions around the country to achieve the development goals. The closing ceremony was also joined by Mr. Jewel Aich, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Dr. Md. Ashadul Islam, Secretary, Health Services Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

MUCH is financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU). The project is aimed at strengthening the enabling environment for eradicating food insecurity and malnutrition in Bangladesh.