LANSA Policy Brief 1

The other Asian enigma: Explaining the rapid reduction of undernutrition in Bangladesh

Published on 1 January 2015

Bangladesh has managed to sustain a surprisingly rapid reduction in the rate of child undernutrition for at least two decades. The two largest drivers of change that have prompted this unheralded success are large gains in parental education (26%) and rapid asset accumulation (25%). Other drivers are improved access to antenatal and neonatal health services, large improvements in access to toilets, and demographic change in the form of reduced fertility rates and longer birth intervals. While these initiatives were not overtly coordinated with nutritional change in mind, Bangladesh’s progress is clearly the result of pro-poor multisectoral policies that have successfully addressed many – but not all – of the multiple constraints on child growth. Further reductions in child undernutrition will require sustained income growth, further expansion of education, and significant improvements in access to, and quality of, health and nutrition services.

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Heady, D. (2015) The other Asian enigma: Explaining the rapid reduction of undernutrition in Bangladesh, LANSA Policy Brief 1. Brighton: LANSA.

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Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA)
Heady, Derek


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