The situation is far worse for the poorest Bangladeshis, who are twice more likely to be stunted than the richest.
In a new report, A Chance to Grow, Save the Children says that the global financial crisis
means millions more will face hunger by the end of 2013. With food prices edging towards record levels, the number of hungry people is likely to reach almost one billion, a seventh of the world's population. But the report also says that social protection systems can act as a safety net during times of crisis for the world's poor. In order to present the report's recommendations for social protection policies and projects, Save the Children hosted a press conference on June 30 at the National Press Club.
Save the Children calls for integrating nutrition in social protection and improved coordination in implementing social protection programs in Bangladesh. Much of which can be achieved by developing a comprehensive social protection strategy which will be owned, will be dynamic and will be responsive. Malnutrition can act as an economic barrier as it can restrict income opportunities for chronically malnourished by 20%, hence we need comprehensive social protection policies and programs that address malnutrition for faster growth. Citing the Chars Livelihoods Programme in Bangladesh as an example, the report explained that through cash transfers, families could increase their consumption of nutrient-rich foods such as eggs, meat, fish, pulses, green leafy vegetables, milk and fruit. As a result, children under age five who benefited from the programmes were reported to be seven millimetres taller on average than non-beneficiary children.
Despite such evidence, investments in social protection have been declining since the start of the global economic crisis, Save the Children says. In Bangladesh, the absolute expenditure in social expenditure has dropped from 1.42 per cent of GDP to 1.27 per cent.
Michael Foley said: "In such uncertain economic times, we need to ensure that the poorest children are not forgotten. Malnutrition can mentally and physically impair a child, leaving him or her at a permanent disadvantage. We need to invest in children's future now."