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Promoting better nutrition in Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
 Izabela Leao / World Bank
School children singing and dancing in Samtse Dzongkhag. Photo Credit: Izabela Leao / World Bank

Bhutan is no ordinary place.

A landlocked Himalayan kingdom tucked in a mostly rugged mountainous terrain between India and China, it measures prosperity by assessing its citizens’ level of happiness by way of a Gross National Happiness index.

Equally striking, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60 percent of its national land be preserved under forest cover, making Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative country.

Bhutan’s geography – with land rises ranging from 200 meters in the southern foothills to 7,000 meters in the high northern mountains – consists of three major agro-ecological zones that allow for a rich biodiversity and seasonal foods.

This natural wealth, however, comes with its caveats as Bhutanese living in isolated rural areas can’t access a reliable diverse diet throughout the year.

"Many families in rural Bhutan practice two meals rather than three meals a day," reports Ms. Kinley Bidha, Tarayana Foundation Field Officer in Samtse Dzongkhag. "Some for cultural reasons, others due to a shortage of food, others due to a shortage of land too farm," she adds.

Overall socio-economic development in the last three decades has led to a rapid improvement in health and nutrition outcomes in Bhutan – the country’s infant mortality rate declined to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2012 down from 90 per 1,000 in 1990; while the rate of stunting in children under 5 years declined 24 percent from 1986 levels.

Nonetheless, the lack of variety of foods in diet remains a key concern, especially for pregnant and nursing women as well as young children. And while most families feed their children complementary food, fewer than a quarter of parents provide them nutritious meals essential to their health.

In addition, 67 percent of Bhutanese adults consume less than the recommended five servings (or 400 grams) of fruits and/or vegetables per person a day [National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2015].

When consumed, vegetables consist for the most part of two national staples, potatoes and chilies, which hardly provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Keeping regional variations in mind, between 16 and 34 percent of children under 5 are stunted—or too short for their age—seven percent of children are underweight, 35 percent of children of age 6-59 months and 44 percent of women of reproductive age are either anemic or iron deficient. Exclusive breastfeeding rates for six-month-old children remain at a low 50 percent (NNS, 2015).  

Damages caused by malnutrition during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life are irreversible and contribute to stunting and lower immunological and cognitive development, and predispose to adult-onset diseases (including metabolic syndrome).

Thankfully, the negative impact of malnutrition on Bhutan’s economy is now better understood and has become a priority to promote its national development.

Indian agriculture at a crossroads: Smart solutions towards doubling farmers’ incomes

Martien van Nieuwkoop's picture
A few weeks ago, I felt a sense of déjà vu.  I was at a roundtable on agriculture in Delhi, in the same conference hall where, ten years ago, I participated in the consultations on the Bank’s World Development Report 2008 on Agriculture for Development
 
This time we were discussing how India can build a stronger agriculture sector without further harm to the environment or depletion of its natural resources.  The high-level dialogue was attended by senior representatives from India’s Niti Aayog, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, leaders of farmers’ associations from Punjab and Haryana, as well as by researchers, academics, and donors.

We focused on the ‘agriculture-water-energy’ nexus, achieving India’s second green revolution, making agriculture more climate resilient, as well as options to stop the burning of crop residue that is worsening air quality in much of northern India. It was heartening to see the torch bearers of India’s drive towards food security unhesitatingly debate a host of complex and sensitive issues.
 
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Over the past six decades, India has come a long way from being a famine-prone country to comfortably producing food for 1.25 billion people from finite arable land. Food security firmly in hand, the government is now targeting to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.  Today, with rapidly growing urban food markets, India is emerging as a global agricultural powerhouse.

د افغانستان ښوونځي معياري او قوی ودانيو ته اړتيا لري

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | دری
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
د هرات ولایت په یوه لمړنی ښوونځي کې یو ښوونکي د لوبې وسایلو په واسطه د زده کونکو څخه د اعدادو پوښتنه کوي. عکس: د رومی مشورتي شرکت / د نړیوال بانک

په افغانستان کې تحصیلي او ښوونیزو آسانتیاوو ته لاسرسۍ په تېرو اوولسو کلونو کې د پراختیايي پروګرامونو یو مهم مُحرک بلل کېږي. په ۲۰۰۱ زېږدیز کال کې، تقریباَ په عمومي توګه نجونې د دغه هېواد په ښوونیز او تحصیلي نظام کې ګډون نه درلود او فقط یو مېلیون هلکانو د دې هېواد په ۳۴۰۰ ښوونځېو کې نوم لیکنه کړې وه. خو په ۲۰۱۵ زېږدیز کال کې په ۱۶۴۰۰ ښوونځیو کې د اته میلیونو ماشومانو څخه زیات ګډون د دې لامل شو، څو د نوم لیکنې په بهیرکې ۹ ځله زیاتوالی رامنځته شي.

 که څه هم د پوهنې په برخه کې لاسته راوړنې خورا مثبتې ارزول کېږي، خو د افغانستان په ښوونځیو کې د ښوونیز چاپېریال کېفیت او مصؤنیت اوس هم ډاډمن نه بلل کېږي: لږ تر لږه نیمايي درسي خونې  په خورا ګڼه ګونه حالت کې د خېمو لاندې او یا هم په یو خورا ناسم چاپېریال کې په زده کړو بوخت دي.

د طبیعي پېښو له امله د افغانستان د زیانمن کېدنې اټکل، د ښوونځیو لپاره د نویو او خوندي ودانیو جوړول او د شته ودانیو تحکیم او بیارغونې لپاره زیاتېدونکې اړتیا لا پیاوړې کوي، ترڅو په دې توګه د زده کوونکو اوښوونکو د ژوند او سلامتیا په هراړخیزه توګه تامین شي.

فرضاً که د زده کړې په یوه ښوونیزه ورځ کې زلزلې وشې، شونې ده، چې په ښوونځیو کې د معیاري ودانیو او زېربناوو د نه شتون له امله ۵ مېلیونه زده کوونکي ژوند له ګواښ سره مخامخ شي. پخوا طبېعي پېښو او له هغې څخه د اړوندو خطرونو په هکله ډاډمنو معلوماتو او ارقامو ته لاسرسۍ ډیر محدود و، او له همدې امله د پیښود مشخص وخت او راتلونکي په هکله دقیق او ډاډمن  معلومات او ارقاموته ته لاسرسۍ یوه ستره ستونزه بلل کېدله.

په افغانستان کې د څو لسیزو جګړې له امله د معلوماتو او شمېرو راټولول یو پېچلۍ حالت ځان ته غوره کړی، څرنګه چې دغه وضعیت نه یوازې له طبیعي پېښو او خطرونو سره د دغه هېواد د تګلارې په وړاندې یو ستر خنډ بلل کېږي، بلکه د طبېعي پېښو د زیانونو په وړاندې د ځواب ورکوونکو ظرفیتونو په شمېر کې هم خورا زیات کموالی رامنځته کړی.

Making schools more resilient in Afghanistan

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
A primary school teacher in western Herat Province is teaching her students numbers with toys. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

In Afghanistan, access to education has been a successful driver of development over the last seventeen years.

In 2001, one million children--almost none of them girls-- were enrolled in 3,400 schools. In 2015, there was a nine-fold increase in enrolment with more than eight million students in 16,400 schools, of whom almost 40 percent were girls.

While it's encouraging to see progress in access to education, the quality and safety of the school facilities are not as reassuring : One of every two students in Afghanistan learns in overcrowded temporary shelters or in fragile outdoor conditions.
 
Given Afghanistan's vulnerability to natural disasters, it's urgent to build safer schools and rehabilitate older facilities in order to protect lives.

If an earthquake were to hit Afghanistan on a school day, 5 million students would be affected. 

In the past, addressing infrastructure resilience has been a challenge since information regarding current and future disaster and climate risk has been extremely limited and fragmented.

Compounded by decades of conflict, this has undermined Afghanistan's ability to cope and effectively respond to natural disasters.

مکاتب افغانستان نیازمند ساختمان های معیاری و مستحکم

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
یک استاد در یکی از مکاتب ابتداییه در ولایت هرات در حال پرسیدن اعداد از شاگردان اش با استفاده از سامان بازی (بازیچه های اطفال) است.  عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/بانک جهانی

طی هفده سال گذشته دسترسی به تسهیلات تعلیمی و تحصیلی به مثابۀ یکی از مُحرک های کلیدی انکشافی در افغانستان محسوب میگردد. در سال ۲۰۰۱ میلادی، تقریباَ  در کل دختران شامل ساختار تعلیمی و تحصیلی دراین کشور نبوده و فقط یک میلیون طفل پسر در ۳۴۰۰ مکاتب این کشور ثبت نام نموده بودند. اما این رقم در سال ۲۰۱۵ میلادی با حضور یافتن بیشتر از هشت میلیون متعلم در ۱۶۴۰۰  مکتب ۹ برابر  افزایش را نشان میدهد.

با آنکه پیشرفت ها در عرصه معارف اُمیدوار کننده است، اما کیفیت و مصؤنیت محیط آموزشی در مکاتب هنوز هم قابل اطمینان پنداشته نمیشود: حد اقل نیمی از  شاگردان در  محیط فوق العاده مزدحم در زیر خیمه ها و یا هم در شرایط محیطی بسیار نامطلوب  مصروف فراگیری تعلیم میباشند
              
با در نظرداشت شرایط آسیب پذیري افغانستان در مقابل حوادث طبیعی، اعمار ساختمان های مصؤن برای مکاتب  و احیای مجدد مکاتب و تسهیلات موجود به منظور حفظ جان  و زندگی شاگردان و معلمین یک ضرورت مبرم بشمار میرود.
اگر فرض کنیم زلزله در جریان یک روز درسی صورت گیرد، ممکن زندگی ۵ میلیون شاگرد بنابر عدم معیاری بودن سا ختمان ها، تعمیرات و زیربنا ها در مکاتب  با خطر مواجه گردد.  

در گذشته رسیدگی به این معضل امکان پذیر نبود زیرا عدم موجودیت معلومات و آمار های دقیق در مورد وقوع حوادث در زمان مشخص و یا آینده منحیث یک چالش عمده محسوب میشد.

Regional cooperation in conservation: South Asia shows the way

Andrew Zakharenka's picture
Illegal trade in wildlife and conservation often were not considered high priority for countries of the South Asia Region. In the first ever attempt, the governments of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan joined forces to strengthen regional cooperation for wildlife conservation. And it was a successful one.

The regional project assisted the governments in building and enhancing shared capacity and institutions to tackle illegal wildlife trade across their borders and invest in habitat and wildlife conservation of critically endangered species. It was clear from the onset that these issues would require both national leadership and regional coordination.
 
Launched in 2011, the project initially had a delayed start. Yet, by December 2016, when the project ended, it became clear that governments coordinated efforts successfully. The three countries participated in regular joint action planning and practice-sharing meetings, signed protocols for and cooperated in transboundary actions, as well as held consultations and public events at the local, national, and international levels.
 
The project supported conservation programs of dozens of endangered species, including crocodiles being released here into the wild. Sundarban area, 2014

জলবায়ু পরিবর্তনের সাথে কি সুন্দরবন এলাকায় মাছের প্রাপ্যতা কমবে?

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

  
মাতৃমৃত্যু বা শিশু মৃত্যু কমানোর মতো বাংলাদেশের স্বাস্থ্য খাতে বহু অর্জন থাকা সত্ত্বেও  দেশের অসংখ্য মানুষ অপুষ্টির শিকার। দেশের প্রায় ৩৩-৩৬ শতাংশ শিশু এবং ১৯ শতাংশ মহিলা অপুষ্টিতে ভুগছে।  অপুষ্টির হার স্বভাবতই দরিদ্র এবং নিম্নবিত্ত  পরিবারগুলোতে বেশি ।  ওয়ার্ল্ড ফিশ এবং বিভিন্ন গবেষণা সংস্থা জানিয়েছে অপুষ্টির সমাধান  রয়েছে বাঙালির চিরন্তন ঐতিহ্য "মাছে  ভাতে"। নানা ধরণের ছোট মাছ শরীরে ফ্যাটি এসিড, ভিটামিন ডি, এ, বি, ক্যালসিয়াম, ফসফরাস, আয়োডিন, জিঙ্ক, আয়রন এর ঘাটতি মেটায়। তাই অপুষ্টি এড়াতে নিম্নবিত্ত পরিবারের খাবারের তালিকায় নানা  রকমের টাটকা মাছ - বিশেষত ছোট মাছের পরিমান বাড়াতে হবে। 

পরিবেশ উষ্ণায়নের সাথে সাথে কিন্তু মাছের যোগান পাল্টাবে । 
পরিবেশ উষ্ণায়নের সাথে সাথে পৃথিবীতে সমুদ্রের উচ্চতা বাড়ছে - জানিয়েছে জলবায়ু পরিবর্তন বিষয়ে বিশেষজ্ঞ আন্তর্জাতিক প্যানেল (আই,পি, সি, সি). গত কয়েক দশক ধরেই প্রতি বছর অগ্রহায়ণ থেকে শুরু করে জ্যৈষ্ঠ মাস পর্যন্ত দক্ষিণ পশ্চিম উপকূলবর্তী  এলাকায়  নদী  নালায় নোনা পানির সমস্যা দেখা যাচ্ছে।  বিশ্বব্যাংক এবং ইনস্টিটিউট অফ ওয়াটার মডেলিং বাংলাদেশে তাদের গবেষণা প্রতিবেদনে (River Salinity and Climate Change: Evidence from Coastal Bangladesh) জানিয়েছে সমুদ্রের উচ্চতা বৃদ্ধির কারণে ইছামতি, বলেশ্বর, শিবসা, পশুর, আধারমানিক সহ বিভিন্ন নদী এবং সংলগ্ন খাল বিলে  নোনা  পানির সমস্যা শুকনো মৌসুমে আরো বাড়বে| ফলে, দক্ষিণ  পশ্চিম উপকূলবর্তী   অনেক উপজেলায় মিঠা  পানির মাছের প্রাকৃতিক আবাস কমে যাবে।  স্বভাবতই এর ফলে  মিঠা পানির মাছের যোগান কমবে।

Sri Lanka at 70: Looking back and forward

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
A view from the Independence day parade.At 70, Sri Lanka has accomplished a lot in its seven decades as an independent nation.
A view from the 2018 Independence Day parade. At 70, Sri Lanka has accomplished a lot in its seven decades as an independent nation. Credit: World Bank

Like many Sri Lankans across the country, I joined Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day festivities earlier this month. This was undoubtedly a joyful moment, and proof of the country’s dynamism and stability. At 70, Sri Lanka has accomplished a lot in its seven decades as an independent nation.
 
The country’s social indicators, a measure of the well-being of individuals and communities, rank among the highest in South Asia and compare favorably with those in middle-income countries. In the last half-century, better healthcare for mothers and their children has reduced maternal and infant mortality to very low levels.
 
Sri Lanka’s achievements in education have also been impressive. Close to 95 percent of children now complete primary school with an equal proportion of girls and boys enrolled in primary education and a slightly higher number of girls than boys in secondary education.
 
The World Bank has been supporting Sri Lanka’s development for more than six decades. In 1954, our first project, Aberdeen-Laxapana Power Project, which financed the construction of a dam, a power station, and transmissions lines, was instrumental in helping the young nation meet its growing energy demands, boost its trade and develop light industries in Colombo, and provide much-needed power to tea factories and rubber plantations. In post-colonial Sri Lanka, this extensive electrical transmission and distribution project aimed to serve new and existing markets and improve a still fragile national economy.
 
Fast forward a few decades and Sri Lanka in 2018 is a far more prosperous and sophisticated country than it was in 1954 and, in many ways, has been a development success story. Yet, the island nation still faces some critical challenges as it strives to transition to another stage of its development and become a competitive upper middle-income country.
 
Notably, the current overreliance on the public-sector as the main engine for growth and investment, from infrastructure to healthcare, is reaching its limits.  With one of the world’s lowest tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios -- 12% in 2016, down from 24% in 1978 —Sri Lanka’s public sector is now facing serious budget constraints and the country needs to look for additional sources of finance to boost and sustain its growth.
 
As outlined in its Vision 2025, the current government has kickstarted an ambitious reform agenda to help the country move from a public investment to a more private investment growth model to enhance competitiveness and lift all Sri Lankans’ standards of living.
 
Now is the time to steer this vision into action. This is urgent as Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most protectionist countries and one of the hardest to start and run a business. As it happens, private foreign investment is much lower than in comparable economies and trade as a proportion of GDP has decreased from 88% in 2000 to 50% in 2016. Reversing this downward trend is critical for Sri Lanka to meet its development aspirations and overcome the risk of falling into a permanent “middle-income trap.”

Colombo: Beyond concrete and asphalt

Darshani De Silva's picture
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them
To ensure their city remains sustainable, Colombo’s citizens need to co-exist and build harmonious relationships with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that thrives in them

Protecting nature in Sri Lanka’s capital for resilience and sustainability

The world is urbanizing at a very fast pace – but it seems like Sri Lanka is an exception.

In 2014, the island was listed as one of the least urbanized countries in the World Urbanization Prospects (WUP),  with less than 20 percent of the population in urban areas. By 2050, WUP projected that number would rise to only 30 percent.
 
Does this mean we still have to worry about the country’s urbanization? The short answer is yes.

This is, after all, an island nation with one of the highest population densities, complex and evolving social systems and intricate ecosystems.

Meanwhile, urbanization, even at relatively slower pace, is still changing migration patterns, altering the way urban populations consume resources, and impacting the affordability of land and other assets.

These, in turn, are increasing the demand for resources. Growing inequality can be seen as a result of the displacement of less affluent communities, while the loss of important ecosystems has negatively affected resilience and sustainability.

Reviving Degraded Wetlands in India’s North Bihar

Pyush Dogra's picture

Kanwar Jheel is the largest in a series of 18 wetlands spread across the Ganges flood plains in India’s north Bihar. For generations, these wetlands have been the mainstay for this densely populated region, enabling families to farm the fertile soil and fish in nutrient-rich waters.

kanwar jheel, bihar


During the monsoon, when the River Burhi Gandak - a Ganges tributary - overflows its banks, the wetlands absorb the runoff, protecting this extremely flood-prone region. When the rains are over, the water shrinks to one tenth the size, exposing marshes and grasslands that create a mosaic of habitats for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

In winter, over 60 species of duck and waterfowl visit these wetlands on their annual migration routes along the Central Asian Flyway.

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