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Tackling Child Malnutrition in South Asia

Saadia Iqbal's picture

Medical checkup in IndiaDid 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. Family in India

(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.


Submitted by Soneye Olurotimi on
Economic growth is not tantamount to development. In South Asia they have focused on fast digit growths of the economy without thinking about the people of the country. When the children are weak and less likely to live wont the economy they are building crumble? what the governments of those regions should do is to channel the resources gained in the improvement of the lives of the people.

Submitted by Nezam on
child malnutrition, child labor and mass people's income level are quite related in the context of Bangladesh. Here to eradicate child malnutrition, only feeding them yogurt will be a insignificant steps- I think. To be sustainable, the steps should be "teaching them how to catch fish, not catching fish on behalf of them". What I'm about to say is, Dr. Muhammad Yunus's step of feeding children yogurt is a very good one but the nation expect more from him.

Hi Nezam, Thanks for your comment. I think Dr. Yunus' microfinance work is based on the premise that teaching people to fish rather than giving them fish is a far more powerful way to reduce poverty in the long-term. But the partnership with Danone is a great example of a social business that works. If other large corporations are inspired by the project and initiate similar ones, that can create a great impact. And this can be especially inspiring to young people who are passionate about making a change but also want to develop and maximize entrepreneurial skills in a creative way. It's not up to one person to make things better; it's up to everyone.