Childhood Stunting in Bangladesh
Stunting is the impaired development of children usually due to malnutrition. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh in South East Asia has had one of the highest levels of stunting for children under 5-years-old. It measured at 45% of children under 5 in 2000. A growing national economy has reduced the number of childhood stunting in Bangladesh to 36%. However, this is still a high considering that poor nutrition in the first years of a child’s life can contribute to irreversible damage to health, growth and development.

With the aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bangladesh government’s National Nutrition Council Executive Committee has put forward a Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition targeting improvements in countrywide sustenance. It is the first funded nutrition program of its kind in Bangladesh. Nutrition is an area that requires addressing in the country. As a result, nonprofit organizations including UNICEF, CARE and the World Bank have worked in cooperation with the government’s nutrition program. They developed a collective impact to fight childhood stunting in Bangladesh.

CARE Collective Impact

Nonprofit organization CARE develops disaster response, food and nutrition, health and education for impoverished people globally. The organization’s approach is to link with partners. Together, they execute CARE’s programs as well as support promotions on a national scale. In Bangladesh, CARE has developed the Nutrition at the Center program. It follows the Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition. According to a CARE survey, the program has helped reduce stunting in children less than 2-years-old from 47% to 33%.


Additionally, UNICEF is a nonprofit organization that supports children globally through partnerships. The organization is working in cooperation with the Bangladesh government’s Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition in making a collective impact to fight childhood stunting in Bangladesh. UNICEF has developed research-based programs that reduce stunting within the first 1,000 days of life. This includes counseling on the proper nutrition of pregnant mothers to reduce underweight babies and improve childhood feeding. This highlights the diversity of foods, improves vitamin use and treats infection and severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

The World Bank

Furthermore, the World Bank is a nonprofit organization that invests knowledge and money in developing countries. The organization views investing in Bangladesh’s nutrition as an investment in the future socioeconomic potential of the children. Among children under 5, about 5.5 million are stunted, and out of that number, poorer children bear a disproportionate burden of stunted growth. The World Bank’s plan includes supporting childhood nutrition as well as a conditional cash transfer for 600,000 families.

Bangladesh has made considerable progress but continues to struggle with childhood nutrition. Children born stunted will potentially experience later puberty development and cognitive impairment. This can lead to poor school and later work performance. Stunted women often end up having stunted children, continuing the cycle. Therefore, programs that invest in proper nutrition are vital. The Bangladesh government’s nutrition program seeks to reduce childhood stunting by 25% by 2025. With the collective impact of fighting childhood stunting by nonprofit organizations like CARE, UNICEF and the World Bank, this goal can potentially become a reality.

Joseph Maria
Photo: Flickr