Outcome 1 – Food systems governance through multisectoral platforms

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 with a first meeting on 27Mar2022 and follow-up meetings on 02Oct2022 and 21Dec2022 still solidifying the quarterly rhythm of DNCC meetings in Dinajpur. Dinajpur’s DNCC is currently also working on a District Plan of Action for Nutrition to be later consolidated into upazila and city Plan of Action for Nutrition.

Moreover, inspired by the experiences from Rangpur and thanks to high political buy-in from the mayor in Dinajpur, the process of initiating a Municipality-Level Multisectoral Nutrition Coordination Committee (MLMNCC) has recently been started with preparations for a first initiation workshop.

Besides city-level nutrition coordination, NICE is also establishing and institutionalizing 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.

February 20, 2023

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

23 NICE farmers’ hubs focusing on nutritious and safe production have been established in the Dinajpur area through NICE since project start and 350 smallholder farmers received training on adopting acroecological practices such as soil testing, minimum use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, use of organic matter and pesticides, crop rotation, intercropping, and use of personal safety materials through the farmers’ hubs. Furthermore, 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 20, 2023

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 8 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, formative research to inform a specific social behavior change campaign increasing nutrition literacy and the demand for nutritious and locally, agroecologically produced food has been conducted in Dinajpur in Oct2022 informing a large demand generation campaign expected in Q3 2023.

February 20, 2023

Outcome 4 – Learning and 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 3 online peer-learning sessions in June and November 2022 and January 2023 where valuable inputs were shared, and the responsible project city coordinator participated in the NICE Winter School in Kenya 11-18Feb2023.

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.

February 20, 2023

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.