Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH)

Strengthening the enabling environment for eradicating food insecurity and malnutrition

30/10/2018 - 

‘Nutrition-sensitive agriculture provides a new mechanism for us to develop food-based interventions that are beneficial to the people of Bangladesh. We already have some evidence on integrated homestead gardening, nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, integrated rice and fish cultivation, and nutrition-sensitive fish culture.’ Minister for Agriculture of Bangladesh

In 2017, FAO celebrated the 40th anniversary of its work in Bangladesh. As one of the first international agencies to extend assistance to Bangladesh after its independence, FAO’s commitment to the country continues undiminished.

‘Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge’ (MUCH) is an ongoing FAO policy advisory project that works with the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen the enabling environment for eradicating food insecurity and malnutrition. MUCH is paving the way for better sectoral and cross-sectoral work on food security and nutrition, and is stimulating increased investment in this area.

Together with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Food (MoFood) and other government departments, the project targets people of all age groups who are malnourished and vulnerable, with particular attention to children in their first 1 000 days of life, and to pregnant and lactating women.

MUCH has already produced results that are informing national food security and nutrition policy processes, such as the implementation of the government’s 7th Five Year Plan, and the technical support given to the development of annual Monitoring Reports—a flagship government report assessing policy impacts and resource mobilization—produced together with MoFood and 16 other partner ministries and departments.

The project supported the formulation of the Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN2) with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the development of the Second Country Investment Plan (CIP2) for NutritionSensitive Food Systems, and the development of a Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool with the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS). Other results include chronic and acute food and nutrition security assessments and targeting; support to youth and adolescents through the Nutrition Olympiad 2017; support for the preparation of Quarterly Bangladesh Food Situation Reports and Fortnightly Foodgrain Reports by the Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU), MoFood; and promotion of the Right to Food. Social protection is a globally recognized strategy to tackle hunger and malnutrition. At the end of 2017, MUCH, in collaboration with MoFood, UNICEF, WFP, IFPRI and Save the Children, organized a technical symposium on nutrition-sensitive social protection.

This symposium is among the first of its kind in Bangladesh that integrates and mainstreams nutrition-sensitive approaches into social protection and safety net programmes. It is also the second in the series of technical symposiums focusing on nutrition-sensitive approaches to achieving food and nutrition security. Attended by 143 representatives from the government, the United Nations, CSOs, academia, and the private sector, the meeting took stock of the best practices and lessons learned from social protection programmes to address food insecurity and malnutrition. The MUCH project is one more example of how innovative partnerships can lead to progress towards the 2030 Agenda.

It works and creates synergies with SUCHANA, a consortium of civil society organizations (CSOs), in order to translate national level policies and strategies into grassroots-level actions. Working together with the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS) at the University of Dhaka, MUCH is also conducting a food consumption survey to provide estimates for selected measurable dietary indicators to inform and refine future nutrition programming interventions. The dietary indicators include the Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS) to assess women’s dietary diversity and the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) to assess food security, both of which will provide input for the Zero Hunger goal.

Resource partner: United States of America (USAID), European Union (DG DEVCO)

SDGs: 1, 2, 3, 8, 12

Regional Initiative: RIE1 - Asia and the Pacific’s Zero Hunger Challenge

Photo: Infant at the Mobarakpur Community Clinic in Kulaura Upazila in northeastern Bangladesh - ©UN/Mark Garten