Aiming to improve the health and nutrition of children and young mothers in Nepal, the Government of Japan and the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) Nepal, have signed a US$3.47 million grant agreement for the implementation of the Mother and Child Health and Nutrition Program (MCHNP).
Signed by Saigo Masamichi, Ambassador of Japan to Nepal, and Susan Jane Pearce, Representative and Country Director of WFP Nepal, the program will be implemented in five vulnerable districts of Provinces 1 and 2 in Nepal.
Stating that this partnership between the Japanese Government, the Government of Nepal, and WFP Nepal has the potential to improve the health and nutrition of 19,000 children aged 6 to 23 months as well as 49,700 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers through specialized nutritious food, Ambassador Masamichi said, “About 25,000 households will benefit from the establishment of Community Food Banks equipped with food storage facilities.”
The grant is anticipated to improve the health and nutrition of children and young mothers in the Jhapa, Morang, and Sunsari districts of Province 1 and the Saptari and Siraha districts of Province 2 of Nepal.
These districts are prone to extreme weather events and other climate change-linked disasters.
Thanking the Government of Japan for its support, WFP Country Director Pearce said, “By investing in the capacity of the government at different levels to implement nutrition programmes, the support will boost the ability of 2,500 government officials and health specialists to provide improved health and nutrition services during pregnancy and childbirth.” This program will also help them to monitor child growth and to provide nutrition counselling at 100 municipal health facilities, she added.
- According to the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal (2017), approximately one million children under the age of five suffered from chronic malnutrition, and 10% suffered from acute malnutrition
- 17% of children in the highest wealth quintile are stunted compared to 49% of children in the lowest wealth quintile
- Stunting is most prevalent among children between 24 and 35 months and acute malnutrition affects around 10% of children under five
- 17% of females aged 5–49 years are underweight and 30% of these are adolescent girls aged between 15-19 years
- According to a UNICEF (2016), 10% of children in Nepal under five years of age were wasted and only 47% of children aged 6-23 months received a diversified diet with 36% receiving a minimum acceptable diet
- 53% of children under five and 69% of children aged 6-23 months suffer from anemia
- 44% of adolescent girls, 46% of pregnant women, and 41% of women of reproductive age suffer from anemia
Highlighting that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely interrupted the livelihoods of vulnerable populations mostly in the rural locations of Nepal where agriculture is the primary source of income, WFP Country Director Pearce hoped that by supporting the production and consumption of locally available and traditionally consumed nutritious food and through shock-responsive community food banks, this project will increase dietary diversity among the poor and food-insecure households and build community resilience to climatic shocks.