Outcome 1 – Governance & Systems

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 policies, the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) is tasked with supervision of the implementation of the 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. Moreover, inspired by the experiences from Rangpur and thanks to high political buy-in from the mayor in Dinajpur, NICE established and initiated a Municipality-Level Multisectoral Nutrition Coordination Committee (MLMNCC) on 16Jan2023 with a respective first meeting on 22Mar2023, following preparatory discussions in Dinajpur’s DNCC. In January 2024, Dinajpur launched its first city-led nutrition action plan (2023-2025) including supporting documents to regularly monitor implementation and budget execution.

Besides support for the multisectoral nutrition and food systems coordination committees, NICE also successfully advocated for the formation of a government-driven Standing Committee on City Nutrition and Food Systems in Dinajpur to statute city nutrition and food systems with legal footage within the city government. Dinajpur’s Standing Committee on City Nutrition and Food Systems has been officially announced on 04Oct2023.

Furthermore, NICE also established and institutionalized NICE Food Systems women and youth groups at upazila and ward level to allow women and youth to better raise their voice and to support them with capacity building on systems thinking and empowerment. Extensive asset maps have been produced in the wards where NICE Food Systems women and youth groups are active and respective community action plans to what the different ward stakeholders contribute to agreed.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 2 – Availability, Production & Value Chains

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

31 NICE farmers’ hubs focusing on nutritious and safe production have been established in the Dinajpur area through NICE since project start, serving 6315 farmers. 29 of the NICE farmers’ hubs owners have received specific agroecology training and 26 respective demonstration plots on brinjal production have been established to showcase best agroecological practices.

39 NICE facilitated mobile vegetable vans for women and youth to sell vegetables around the city, 5 covered vans which go to the farmers’ hubs to supply the vegetables food cart and local city food markets and 17 street food carts offering various types of healthy snacks around the city, especially in front of schools, colleges and marketplaces deliver nutritious foods in the two Bangladeshi NICE cities.

Also, 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 and designing of additional, NICE-specific agroecology interventions is currently on-going in a participatory process.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 3 – Knowledge & Demand

To foster demand for and knowledge of nutritious food produced using agroecological practices, 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 20 schools in Dinajpur municipality. 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, awareness about agroecological practices has been rosen through a social behavior change communication campaign “Shukrishi” (shu = good, krishi = agriculture) reaching up to 10’919 city dwellers through a rally on 11May2023 as well as community activations and a farmers’ fair.

Formative research has been been conducted in Dinajpur in October 2022 to best target the socials behavior change communication activities.

February 15, 2024

Outcome 4 – Policy, Learning & Scale-up

Knowledge sharing and learning activities in Dinajpur are currently 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 8 online peer-learning sessions in June and November 2022, January, April, July and December 2023, and January and February 2024 where valuable inputs were shared. Furthermore, the responsible project city coordinator participated in the NICE Winter School in Kenya 11-18Feb2023 and will, together with 2 city reprensentatives, among them the acting mayor, participate in a peer-learning week in Switzerland in March 2024.

Also, NICE recently supported Bangladesh’s Food Safety Authority with dissemination of their respective, renewed dietary guidelines in Dinajpur as well as to advocate for having the right of food in Bangladesh’s constituency. 2 roundtables discussing nutrition-vital cities and the role of women in agriculture to influence national policy have also been organized in Bangladeshi media on 22Oct2023 and 09Mar2023.

February 15, 2024

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.