Dinajpur

Outcome 1 – Food systems governance through multisectoral platforms

In Bangladesh, when prioritizing nutrition in recent times, the Government of Bangladesh has outlined its multisectoral, multi-level nutrition strategy in its National Nutrition Policy 2015 and in the second National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN-2; 2016-2025). Within these documents, the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) has been tasked with supervision of the implementation of these policies, including establishing relevant linkages and facilitating the necessary coordination among different sectors and organizations and establishing nutrition and food systems coordination and communication with regional and national level nutrition administration. District and upazila nutrition coordination committees (DNCC and UNCC) have thus been adopted as the vehicle for coordination of implementation of NPAN-2 at district and upazila level.

DNCC has been in place in Dinajpur district when NICE started. However, the Dinajpur DNCC has been dormant and not active since its formation in 2019. The NICE Bangladesh country team achieved to re-activate the dormant DNCC in Dinajpur with a first meeting on 27Mar2022 and a second meeting in Oct2022, unfortunately not yet in a quarterly rhythm.

Findings from UNICEF’s Child Well Being Survey (CWS) in Bangladesh highlighted that the nutrition situation of children in urban slums is much worse compared to non-slum areas. Therefore, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established City Level Multisectoral Nutrition Coordination Committees (CLMNCC) for better coordination of health and nutrition services in 19 cities in Bangladesh. NICE seeks to initiate a CLMNCC in Dinajpur in project year 2.

Outcome 2 – Increased agroecological production

In December 2021 a group of 12 experts was convened in Dinajpur to select the key value chains for the NICE project in a participatory, multi-stakeholder approach. Different value chains were rated as per the general value chain selection criteria of the project with scoring each value chain on a 3-point scale (1-3) and excluding commodities with a low total score from further consideration. Agreement was achieved on further supporting the following 9 value chains through the NICE project:

  • Brinjal
  • Bitter gourd
  • Sweet gourd
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Drumstick
  • Zinc-enriched rice
  • Mango
  • Eggs

11 NICE farmers’ hubs focusing on nutritious and safe production through improved pest management and modernized cultivation technologies have been established in the Dinajpur area in NICE year 1 ending 31Jul2022, with the infrastructure completely installed in 6 of them. All the farmers’ hubs owners have also been trained on technical know-how of raising high tech soil-less vegetable seedlings and the farmers’ hub business model in general.

Furthermore, besides already establishing farmers’ hubs, a farmers’ survey to understand the current status and potential for agroecological practices in Dinajpur using an adapted version of FAO’s Self-evaluation and Holistic Assessment of climate Resilience of farmers and Pastoralists tool (SHARP) with 150 farmers was conducted in March 2022.

Outcome 3 – Demand generation

To foster demand for and knowledge about nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food contributing to a balanced diet, NICE took partnership with the Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) and could implement Nutrition Clubs taking care of school-owned nutrition gardens in 5 schools in Dinajpur municipality during NICE project year 1. In a similar approach, a breastfeeding corner at the municipality offices has been established in close collaboration with Dinajpur municipality to give women a quiet space for breastfeeding even when seeking services at the municipality and at the same time making them aware about the importance of nutrition and the foods produced by NICE farmers’ hubs.

Furthermore, formative research to inform a specific social behavior change campaign increasing nutrition literacy and the demand for nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food has started in Dinajpur in Oct2022 with respective campaign expected in Q2 2023.

Outcome 4 – Learning and scale up

So far, knowledge sharing and learning activities in Dinajpur were largely focused on exchanging experiences and forging synergies with the other NICE cities in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Rwanda. NICE focal persons at city level as well as implementing partners actively participated in 2 online peer-learning sessions in June and November 2022 where they shared their valuable inputs.

Also, NICE is in discussion with the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority and Bangladesh’s Food Ministry to support dissemination of their respective, renewed dietary guidelines in Dinajpur as well as to advocate for having the right of food in Bangladesh’s constituency.

Baseline Situation

At baseline, a team of experienced enumerators visited 307 households in both the slum (156) and the non-slum (151) area of Dinajpur to collect information on the nutritional status, socio-economic information and consumption behavior of the city population. This survey revealed food insecurity in the majority (54.1%) of the visited households in Dinajpur, which increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 15.7% of the children under 5 years were too short for their age and therefore stunted, and 12.5% were underweight. Furthermore, 48.7% of women and 34.7% of men were overweight. Many women did not consume an adequately diverse diet (29.1% consumed less than 5 food groups in the previous 24 hours). All this indicates the kind of obstacles faced by the urban population of Dinajpur to access a diverse and nutritious diet, with likely negative effects on their longer-term health. On the other hand, many of the urban and peri-urban households owned farmland, overall 69%. This provides an opportunity for NICE activities to assist in an increase and diversification of locally and agroecologically produced nutritious foods and in making them more accessible for the city population, including vulnerable city population groups. Baseline data were collected in Jun2021.

The Municipality of Dinajpur partners with the NICE consortium for this project.

NICE_CityOverview_Dinajpur_Bangladesh