Rates of malnutrition in Bangladesh are among the highest in the world. More than 54% of preschool-age children, equivalent to more than 9.5 million children, are stunted, 56% are underweight and more than 17% are wasted. Although all administrative divisions were affected by child malnutrition there were important differences in the prevalence of the three anthropometric indicators. The prevalence of underweight ranged from 49.8% in Khulna to 64.0% in Sylhet which also showed the highest prevalence of stunting (61.4%) and wasting (20.9%). Despite the high levels, rates of stunting have declined steadily over the past 10 years.
Malnutrition among women is also extremely prevalent in Bangladesh. More than 50 percent of women suffer from chronic energy deficiency and studies suggest that there has been little improvement in women's nutritional status over the past 20 years. As observed for children there were important differences in the prevalence of women malnutrition among administrative divisions. The prevalence of women with a BMI<18.5 kg/m2 ranged from 47.6% in Khulna to 59.6% in Sylhet. Clinical VAD is common among women of reproductive age and during pregnancy. Sub-clinical VAD and anemia are also highly prevalent among pregnant and lactating women. Programs in Bangladesh also need to begin to incorporate components for adolescents and school-age children who will also benefit from improvements in nutrition.
The rapid population growth and resulting high and growing food requirements pose a difficult challenge given the limited availability of cultivable land in Bangladesh. Re-occurring disasters further complicate the stability of food production. Recently the Governments of Bangladesh and interested organizations have started to encourage non-cereal food production and consumption along with food self-sufficiency.
Since nutrition is an important input for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Eminence has been working to improve nutritional status of children by promoting Infant and Young Child feeding (IYCF) practices, exclusive breastfeeding practice and lifestyle modification. Through its research and advocacy activities Eminence has successfully accomplished nutrition projects in several districts of the country including the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracks, coastal areas (Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola) and extreme north-eastern regions. Currently an intervention is running at Boda, Atwari and Debiganj upazila of Panchagar district.
Eminence is currently conducting a case study of Bangladesh on food and nutrition security in vulnerable communities affected by cyclical climate-related hazards and climate change and for practical guidelines development with Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Mission in Bangaldesh. The project is in place at Lalmonirhat and Kishoganj districts of Bangladesh. Eminence will not only enrich but review the guidelines as well intended to practitioners, aiming at assessing situation and designing tailored climate-resilient and nutrition focused interventions. The ongoing research is expected to support food and nutrition insecure rural populations – more specifically young children and women – to cope with and adapt to climate change variability and change.
Eminence is also implementing an operational research titled ‘Improving the IYCF through Strengthening the Capacity of Community Volunteers and Traditional Birth Attendants,’ in Panchagarh District, about 560 km north of Dhaka, one of the most impoverished districts in the country. Alive & Thrive (A&T) awarded grants to eight recipients for the first round of its Small Grants Program and Eminence received grants for Assessing the cost and effectiveness of training and supervision of frontline workers on early breastfeeding practices.