01 Oct 2015

Valid Project Brief Report


Undernutrition in Bangladesh – how can data be better used to support programme planning and decision making?

  • Region

    South Asia

  • Topic


  • Priority area

    Child Health & Development

  • Report Type

    Evaluations and partner reports

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Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of undernutrition in the world. Although prevalence has been gradually declining since the 1990s, millions of children and women still suffer from one or more forms of the condition, including wasting, stunting, underweight, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies, and anaemia. In 2014, wasting for children under five stood at 14.3% with stunting estimated at 36.1%. Given the country’s population size, this translates into approximately 9.9 million stunted and 3.9 million wasted children respectively. Whilst Bangladesh has now signed up to the six World Health Assembly Targets to reduce undernutrition by 2025 and has made other recent commitments to the issue at the Nutrition for Growth Summit (2013) and at the Second International Conference on Nutrition ICN2 (2014), recent reports have recognized the need for strong leadership and multisectoral/multi-stakeholder coordination if these targets are to be achieved. There are plans under discussion to revitalise the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) chaired by the Prime Minister and to include multi-sector Ministerial membership which could go some way to strengthening national coordination for nutrition. There is also a new Nutrition Policy (awaiting sign-off by Government) that emphasizes the importance of a multisectoral approach, as well as the 7th 5 year plan (FYP) developed by the General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission, which is nearing finalization and will have a much stronger focus on nutrition than the 6th FYP45.

Whilst it is vital to increase commitments at country level, several factors are commonly cited as critical barriers preventing effective leadership and evidence-based decision making for nutrition in many countries. These can include a lack of national and local level knowledge of undernutrition and its causes, as well as a lack of evidence and data on nutrition to inform policy, programming and advocacy. Country decision-makers also face challenges to the effective use and interpretation of the nutrition data and information that does exist.

Recognizing these challenges as part of their 2014 Nutrition Strategy, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) are prioritizing support to strengthen global, regional and country capacity to collect and use data for planning, programming and resource allocation, and to track results/progress. At the beginning of 2015, CIFF asked Valid International to work closely with national bodies and stakeholders over six months in Bangladesh (January-July 2015) to help improve understanding around information gaps and needs for nutrition, and to recommend innovative mechanisms to build available nutrition data and to support data application to planning and decision-making.

This report looks at the key elements in the chain of data use for nutrition programme planning and decision-making in Bangladesh. The elements include stakeholders active in nutrition, data/information availability, data use and analysis techniques and visualisation and sharing of data/information.