Speaking at the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum in Dhaka recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed that agricultural development must be accompanied by renewed efforts to tackle the problems of undernutrition and food access, if sustainable food security is to be achieved in Bangladesh.
“Producing more food does not guarantee access to food,” said Prime Minister Hasina during a visionary speech, in which she also spoke of the need for “social safety nets and capacity to cope with the impact of disasters, promotion of dietary diversity and community based nutrition, health, sanitation and food safety.”
The forum resulted in a concrete plan to complete, finance and implement Bangladesh’s food and nutrition security investment plan before the end of 2010. The plan includes a comprehensive range of actions designed to combat hunger and malnutrition, from increasing the availability of food to promoting effective access.
These same themes were the subject November 2009 meeting between the Prime Minister and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, in which she asked WFP to help Bangladesh strengthen its social safety nets, and to intensify its assistance in the areas of nutrition, school feeding and climate change adaptation.
Following the November meeting, WFP has intensified its efforts in these areas. The agency, which will assist close to 4 million people in 2010, supports the government in running the country’s largest social safety net and is poised to increase its technical assistance to strengthen others.
In addition to feeding 1.1 million children in primary schools in highly food insecure areas, WFP runs one of the largest community level disaster-risk reduction projects in the country, which the government recognises is helping communities adapt and protect their productive assets, as the effects of climate change become more evident.
Working with UNICEF, FAO and WHO, WFP is also at the forefront of promoting innovative and multi-sectoral approaches to curbing alarming rates of undernutrition and addressing the critical problem of micronutrient deficiencies.