The July 2012 Bangladesh Nutrition Program

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Dubai Cares Partners with GAIN to Inaugurate Community Led Pilot School Nutrition Program in Bangladesh

Date: 

11 July 2012

Dhaka, Bangladesh 11 July 2012 — Dubai Cares, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), today inaugurated a new pilot school feeding program championed by the Government of Bangladesh. The program will improve the education and nutrition of children 5 to 11 years old from vulnerable families in approximately 45 schools in one urban area of Dhaka and two rural areas of Mymensingh District.

According to the latest national statistics, less than 65 percent of the approximately 20 million children of primary school age attend school and around 40 percent are hungry during their lessons. Good quality nutrition is critical for physical and intellectual development, and school feeding programs have been shown to increase school attendance rates.

Dubai Cares is a UAE-based philanthropic organization founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It has committed US$ 2.5 million (AED9.2 million) towards school feeding programs in Bangladesh. This donation will initially be used to fund and assess three separate pilots, two in Mymensingh District and one in Dhaka. The effort is being implemented locally by leading civil society organizations BRAC and Banchte Shekha with support from GAIN.

The nutritious food that will be provided to the children will be prepared in eight centralized cluster kitchens operated by BRAC and Banchte Shekha.

The program will provide schools in rural areas with culturally appropriate nutritious and energy rich hot cooked meals (i.e. rice, vegetables and pulses cooked with fortified edible oil and salt). It will also supply schools in urban areas with both hot cooked nutritious meals and foods fortified with vitamins and minerals. Foods will be sourced and produced locally and quality control measures will ensure food safety and quality.

“Today I smiled at the enjoyment and happiness I saw on the school children’s faces when they received the hot cooked meals,” said Ms. Angela Gomes, Magsaysay award winner and Founder Director of Banchte Shekha.

“It is a pioneering program, which has potential to set many milestones in the country. The commitment and leadership we have seen to date, from local mother’s clubs, school management committees, parent teacher associations, community food monitors and local government bodies are exciting,” said Dr Safiqul Islam, Director, BRAC Education Program (BEP).

“The school feeding model we are working to build with our partners has high potential to be replicated both nationally and globally,” added Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director of GAIN, an international independent organization with a focus on nutrition, with its headquarters in Switzerland. “The cost-effective initiative will empower local civil society and marginalized populations, integrate different health sectors, celebrate local foods and give children the dignity they deserve through increased access to quality education and nutrition.”

Speaking at a high-profile event to inaugurate the program, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, said: “Much thought went into ensuring the effectiveness and long term sustainability of the program which, we hope, will allow future generations of children and their communities to enjoy the benefits of this program. This is another innovative program that will not only feed school children, but empower local communities as well, which will eventually help promote local economic growth. We hope today’s inauguration will be the beginning of the end of poverty, malnutrition and a start to overcoming the challenges that prevent children and their communities, here in Bangladesh, from enjoying a healthy education which will lead to more prosperous lives.”

BRAC and Banchte Shekha are responsible for implementation, including training of cooks and mothers in hygiene, monitoring of food quality and sanitation. PRAN Group, one of Bangladesh’s largest food processing organizations, will supply the appropriately fortified popular snacks including bread and buns to schools. GAIN is providing management oversight, plus financial and technical support. The pilots will be overseen by the high-level Project Management Unit (PMU) chaired by a senior government functionary in the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. Mother’s clubs, school management committees and local government bodies will play a lead role in food distribution, monitoring and quality assurance.

By integrating cross-cutting interventions such as nutrition, sanitation, good hygiene practices (i.e. hand washing), treatment for worms, and by focusing on important themes that promote sustainability for example community empowerment, gender and governance, the pilots are expected to deliver positive impact.

The program will provide important learning and best practices for national scale up.

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About BRAC
BRAC is a development success story, spreading solutions born in Bangladesh to 10 other countries around the world – a global leader in creating opportunity for the world’s poor. What started out as a limited relief operation in 1972 in a remote village of Bangladesh has turned into the largest development organisation in the world. Organising the poor using communities’ own human and material resources, it catalyzes lasting change, creating an ecosystem in which the poor have the chance to seize control of their own lives. We do this with a holistic development approach geared toward inclusion, using tools like microfinance, education, healthcare, legal services, community empowerment and more. Our work now touches the lives of an estimated 126 million people, with staff and BRAC-trained entrepreneurs numbering in the hundreds of thousands, a global movement bringing change to 10 countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, with operations in our 11th country, Philippines, being launched in 2012. For more information please visit http://www.brac.net

About Banchte Shekha
Banchte Shekha’s vision is a society which fulfils all fundamental demands of the poor women and children, in which social harmony, peace, justice and ecological balance prevail. Its mission is to bring about an improved quality for life for the poor women and children in the social and economic sphere, especially by using awareness techniques to empower the beneficiaries with the skills to survive and assist them to access their legal and democratic rights. Set up in 1981, the organization now accommodates 200 live-in trainees and also serves as a women’s shelter. More than 25,000 women in 750 village-based organizations are active members of Banchte Shekha, and more than 200,000 indirectly benefit from its agenda. For more information please visit http://www.banchteshekha.org

About Dubai Cares
Launched in September 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Cares works to improve children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries. The UAE-based philanthropic organization’s programs are currently reaching over 7 million beneficiaries in 28 developing countries with the highest gap in primary education. Comprehensive in scope, the philanthropic organization’s primary education programs integrate four key components: School Infrastructure; School Health & Nutrition; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools; and Quality of Education. For more information please visit http://www.dubaicares.ae/en

About GAIN
Driven by a vision of a world without malnutrition, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) was created in 2002 at a Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Children. GAIN with its headquarters in Geneva Switzerland builds and supports innovative partnerships among the public and private sectors to increase access to and consumption of nutritious foods necessary for people, communities and economies to be stronger and healthier. With a current reach of over 610 million people (half of whom are women and children) in more than 30 countries GAIN’s goal is to improve the lives of 1.5 billion people within the most vulnerable populations around the world through access to sustainable nutrition solutions. For more information, please visit us at www.gainhealth.org.

Media Contacts:  
Basanta Kumar Kar, Country Manager, GAIN Bangladesh Office: +880-1719-400229, bkar@gainhealth.org   

Shermin Mheidly, Senior Communications Manager, Dubai Cares, Office: +971 4 450 4550, Shermin.Mheidly@dubaicares.ae 

Saleem Samad, Communications, GAIN Bangladesh, Mobile: +880-1711-530207, saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Karie Atkinson, Communications Associate, GAIN Geneva, Office: +41 22 749 17 83, katkinson@gainhealth.org

View the Press Release issued by the Government of Bangladesh

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