Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable

Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable

Policies and practice in Bangladesh need to have a greater focus on nutrition, at large scale and across different sectors, in order to accelerate progress on tackling the country’s substantial malnutrition burden of 41% stunting and 16% wasting across a population of 156.5 million. Social protection is a human right and a means for states to protect their most vulnerable citizens. Bangladesh’s current social protection system is fragmented and ineffective – in 2010 reaching just 35% of those living below the poverty line.

As the Government of Bangladesh leads a significant reform of its National Social Security Strategy, harnessing
the potential of social protection for nutrition is vital. According to this report, there is a a tangible opportunity for the development of social protection to improve malnutrition in Bangladesh.

This report outlines the major pathways to nutrition outcomes and a range of evidence on nutrition-sensitive social protection to make recommendations for policy development and implementation in Bangladesh and for global learning. The authors affirm how developing social protection across the lifecycle, with a greater focus on nutrition
behaviour change, adolescent girls, empowering women and the 1,000-day window of opportunity
between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday, will help shape healthier and more
prosperous futures for everyone in Bangladesh.

The report argues that integrated nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes in Bangladesh should
address priority focus areas for nutrition outcomes and across the following three pathways:

  • Household food security
  • Caring practices for women and children
  • Health environment and services