Did you know that South Asia has the highest rates of malnutrition and the largest numbers of undernourished children in the world? About 38-46% of the population suffers from malnutrition, compared to 28% in sub-Saharan Africa. This is surprising, given South Asia’s recent impressive economic growth, and it’s become an urgent priority for development in the region. The effects of malnutrition can be far-flung; for example, a child who is undernourished during his or her first two years is less likely to complete in school and will earn, on average, a 10-17% lower income than one who was well-nourished.
If you’re part of a project that’s addressing malnutrition in South Asia, or just want to learn more about the issues, be sure and check out the South Asia Regional Development Marketplace (DM). This year, the DM is calling for innovative projects to improve nutrition among infants and children under 2, and also among pregnant women.
(A bit of background: the Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that identifies projects that can make a significant development impact. It’s organized by the World Bank and various partners, and takes place at both a global and a regional level.)
On a related note, I recently heard Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, speak at the IMF. He described a joint project by Grameen and Danone that’s helping to reduce child malnutrition in Bangladesh by developing a yogurt that’s choc full of the micronutrients many Bangladeshi children are deficient in. Affordable even to the poorest, the yogurt is a great example of a successful social business model.