Bangladesh has signed an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) for expanding and improving school feeding programme for the country's primary school students. The agreement was inked in an event attended by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen. Bangladesh government introduced a school feeding programme in 2010 and now some 23 lakh students of 15,000 primary schools in 104 upazilas are getting free meals. Read: PM Hasina offers Nepal use of Payra port during meeting with Nepalese counterpart in Rome Under the new agreement, the school feeding programme will be expanded to more than 150 upazilas, raising the number of beneficiaries to 37 lakh students. Besides, fruits, milk, bread, eggs and other nutritious foods will be served instead of fortified biscuits. Thanks to the feeding programme, the dropout rate has declined by 7.5 percent and the enrolment rate has increased by 14 percent in the primary schools, said Momen. Read: Bangladesh-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Room opened at FAO Headquarters Moreover, Bangladesh has become the 85th member of the School Meals Coalition at an event here on Monday. Bangladesh Ambassador to Italy Md Shameem Ahsan and PM’s speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam were present.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought assistance from the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost the production of wheat and edible oil in Bangladesh to reduce its export dependency for the two items. The assistance was sought when IFAD President Alvaro Lario met her at the FAO headquarters, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters after the meeting on Monday (July 24, 2023). Read: Bangladesh signs agreement with WFP to expand school feeding programme Hasina also asked the IFAD to help Bangladeshi small agro-enterprises in marketing their goods and help the country build an efficient food storage system. Also on Monday the prime minister asked the World Food Programme (WFP) to raise funds for Bangladesh particularly displaced Rohingyas who took shelter in Bangladesh as per capita fund for Rohingya declined to US$ 8 from US$ 12. She made the call when WFP Executive Director Cindy Hensley McCain met her at the FAO Headquarters on Monday. Hasina said Bangladesh has successfully raised food production thanks to her government's taking various steps in this field. Read: PM Hasina offers Nepal use of Payra port during meeting with Nepalese counterpart in Rome Bangladesh is in a good position in producing not only crops but also fish and other foods, she said. Cindy Hensley McCain is the wife of former US presidential candidate John McCain who adopted a three-month Bangladeshi girl in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, the prime minister along with other heads of government and states attended a reception hosted by Director General of Food and Agriculture Organization Qu Dongyu at the FAO headquarters.
The U.N. delivered grim news on global food security Wednesday: 2.4 billion people didn’t have constant access to food last year, as many as 783 million faced hunger, and 148 million children suffered from stunted growth. Five U.N. agencies said in the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition report that while global hunger numbers stalled between 2021 and 2022 many places are facing deepening food crises. They pointed to Western Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, where 20% of the continent’s population is experiencing hunger, more than twice the global average. “Recovery from the global pandemic has been uneven, and the war in Ukraine has affected the nutritious food and healthy diets,” Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement. “This is the `new normal’ where climate change, conflict, and economic instability are pushing those on the margins even further from safety.” FAO chief economist Maximo Torero said the FAO food price index has been declining for about 15 months, but “food inflation has continued.” But he said not knowing if the deal that has enabled Ukraine to ship 32 metric tons of grain to world markets and is trying to overcome obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer shipments will be renewed when it expires on July 17 “is not good for the markets.” UN warns its development goals for 2030 are in trouble and 575 million people will remain very poor If it isn’t renewed immediately “you will have a new spike for sure” in food prices, but how much and for how long will depend on how markets respond, he said. According to the report, people’s access to healthy diets has deteriorated across the world. More than 3.1 billion people – 42% of the global population – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021, an increase of 134 million people compared to 2019, it said. Torero told a news conference launching the report that reducing the number of people eating unhealthy diets “is a big challenge, because it’s basically telling us that we have substantially to change the way we use our resources in the agricultural sector, in the agri-food system.” According to the latest research, he said, between 691 million and 783 million people were chronically undernourished in 2022, an average of 735 million which is 122 million more people than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Eliminate legal barriers to women owning land: UN chief Torero said U.N. projections for 2030 indicate that 600 million people will still be suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2030, far from the U.N. development goal of achieving “Zero Hunger” by that date. In the report’s foreword, the heads of FAO, the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization wrote that achieving Zero Hunger “poses a daunting challenge.” They called for redoubled efforts “to transform agri-food systems and leverage them” to reach the target. As for children, the report says they are continuing to suffer from malnutrition, with not only 148 million younger than 5 stunted but 45 million too thin for their height or “wasted,” while 37 million youngsters were overweight. Torero said the five agencies also looked at increased urbanization and found that people in rural and semi-urban areas are also consuming mass market products. “Normally, we used to believe that rural people will consume what they produce, but that’s not the case,” he said, explaining that in rural areas about 30% of the family’s food basket is purchased from the market, and in semi-urban and urban areas it is higher, which has implications for nutrition because of the consumption of more processed foods. WFP chief economist Arif Husain told reporters in a virtual briefing that in 2022 when the war in Ukraine was ongoing the food situation didn’t get worse because the donor community stepped up with about $14.2 billion, and the agency was able to provide aid to 160 million people, up from 97 million in 2019. Stop targeting truth, truth-tellers: UN Chief on World Press Freedom Day “My concern is that moving forward we are looking at huge funding cuts,” he said, citing WFP donations of just $4.2 billion by last week, 29% lower than at the same time last year.
The Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), a group based in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, has expressed deep concerns about the recent announcement that the World Food Programme (WFP) will have to reduce its general food assistance voucher value from USD 12 to USD 10 per person per month, due to a USD 125 million funding shortfall. “As refugees living in the camp, we know first-hand how difficult it is to survive on even $12 per month, and this reduction is likely to have a devastating impact on the already dire situation of our community. It is hard to fathom how we are going to survive on $10 per month when even with $12 per month, people are struggling to make ends meet,” reads a press release signed by Abdur Rahim, vice-chairman of ARSPH. Also Read: UN experts for immediate funding to avert food ration cuts for Rohingyas The reduction of food assistance is likely to lead to a host of new challenges, including extortion, prostitution, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and radicalization, noted the release, adding, “The desperation of our people will create an environment in which these activities thrive, leaving the most vulnerable members of our community at great risk.” The group pleaded the international community to take urgent action to ensure that the ration sizes do not get cut. “It is unacceptable that we, as refugees, are being forced to bear the burden of a funding shortfall that is not of our making. The international community must take responsibility for ensuring that we receive the assistance we need to survive,” it said. Read More: South Korea reaffirms its support for ultimate resolution of Rohingya crisis On behalf of the Rohingya community, they urged the World Food Programme and other humanitarian organizations to find alternative sources of funding to make up for the shortfall. “We call on donor countries to increase their contributions to the Rohingya crisis. Our lives depend on it, and we implore the international community not to turn a blind eye to our plight,” it added.
Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network which, co-convened by Switzerland-based international organisation Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have launched an innovation challenge for young entrepreneurs to ensure the supply and consumption of nutritious and safe food for lower-income groups. Food Frontiers 2.0 wants to find creative business concepts, inexpensive and scalable technical solutions, and campaign ideas to identify new and innovative ways to reach lower-income consumers with nutritious food products. The application window for the innovation challenge already opened and will close on January 15. Read More: More awareness needed to ensure safe food: Minister A shortlist will be made after scrutinising the submissions received in the first round of selection. Representatives from the selected businesses or ideas will attend a three-day residential boot camp session in the capital as part of investment readiness training and business expansion. Seven winners (two each from three categories), including one reserved prize for the International Nutrition Olympiad, will get cash and pre-seed funding for implementing a business plan, expansion of the business, and infrastructure development. Read More: Safe food to be ensured for all amid pressure over subsidy Food Frontiers 2.0 wants to build the capacity of young entrepreneurs on sustainable food system approaches and business skills for managing a social enterprise. Also, it aims to co-design business models that are geared towards improving the nutrition outcome of the food system, particularly for the most vulnerable; building a pipeline of potential investments for disruptive innovative ideas for the food system of Bangladesh. The National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Agricultural University are the strategic partners of this event. Read more: 'Digital agriculture can give Bangladesh's food, nutrition security a boost'
The government of Japan and WFP on Monday signed an exchange of notes to provide food and nutrition assistance to the Rohingyas in Bhasan Char and to develop agricultural infrastructure in Cox’s Bazar.The contribution of USD 4.3 million will be used for critical food assistance through the e-voucher system for the Rohingya refugees living in Bhasan Char and will help further the development of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation system, canal excavation, and new roads for the Bangladeshi community in Cox’s Bazar.“Japan is an essential partner for WFP, and we are grateful for their staunch support of development in Bangladesh and of our humanitarian efforts in the country,” said Dom Scalpelli, the resident Representative and Country Director of WFP Bangladesh.Scalpelli said this new contribution will help them continue to provide life-saving food assistance on the island of Bhasan Char and will greatly benefit the Bangladeshi community in Cox’s Bazar.Following the emergency grant of USD 2 million in January. Japan decided to provide additional assistance to Bhasan Char, with the "strong hope" that this contribution will respond to the urgent food and nutrition needs of the Rohingya population on Bhasan Char, as well as to enhance the agricultural environment in Cox’s Bazar."During my recent visit to Cox’s Bazar, I saw the dedicated and professional work of WFP and its partners. Food assistance by E-Voucher in the Cox’s Bazar camps is truly innovative, and it is our great pleasure that the innovative approach will be expanded to Bhasan Char with this funding," said Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki. Read: US announces over $170 million in humanitarian assistance for RohingyasAs the Rohingya crisis has stepped into the sixth year, it is imperative to continue funding for better and dignified lives of refugees, while making every effort for the early repatriation to Myanmar, he said."Durable solutions of this crisis will be conducive to realizing the vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, Japan will stand by the government and the people of Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya response," said Naoki.Since the beginning of the emergency in August 2017, Japan has been a steadfast supporter of the Rohingya refugee response in Bangladesh, contributing over USD $170 million to UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGOs in Bangladesh, including through this new funding.
Bangladesh has suggested the World Food Programme (WFP) to set up a Regional Food Bank in South Asia as a strategic reserve for the region. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen shared the concerns over food insecurity around the world when newly appointed Country Director of WFP Domenico Scalpelli presented his credentials to him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday. He urged the WFP to enhance its focus on the issue of nutrition as part of its various programmes carried out in collaboration with the Government. Also read: Dhaka approached Swiss banks about deposit of Bangladeshi money: Momen Momen urged the WFP and other UN agencies operating in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to help create an environment conducive to the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas, now sheltered in Bangladesh, to Myanmar. Scalpelli appreciated Bangladesh’s generosity to host the forcibly displaced Rohingya and urged the Foreign Minister to impress upon the international community to continue support for WFP’s much-needed work in the humanitarian crisis. Also read: A high-profile Saudi delegation to visit Bangladesh soon to discuss energy cooperation: Envoy The Foreign Minister recalled his last meeting with the WFP Executive Director David M Beasely, and thanked WFP for commencing work in support of the Rohingya relocated to Bhashan Char. The WFP Country Representative informed the Foreign Minister about his upcoming trip to Bhashan Char, and thanked the government for providing support to WFP staff with accommodation, transportation and other facilities there. The WFP Country Representative thanked Bangladesh for providing leadership of its Executive Board at a critical time for the international community. The Foreign Minister assured Scalpelli of necessary cooperation from the government in effectively discharging his mandate.
For the first time, Bangladesh has been elected the president of the executive board of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The 36-member executive board of the Rome-based world's largest humanitarian organisation unanimously elected Bangladesh as the president of the board for 2022 in its first regular session on Monday, said Bangladeshi Ambassador to Italy Shameem Ahsan. Also read: WFP ED lauds Bangladesh's development journey
The United Nations World Food Programme warned that the world is no longer moving towards Zero Hunger. According to the international organisation, progress has stalled, reversed, and today, more than 270 million people are estimated to be acutely food insecure or at high risk in 2021. Also read: In multiple countries, alarm over hunger crisis rings louder WFP’s latest Global Operational Response Plan found that famine - driven by conflict and fueled by climate shocks and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 - could soon become a reality for millions of people. The number of people teetering on the brink of famine –has risen from 34 million projected at the beginning of the year to 41 million projected as of June. Without immediate emergency food assistance, they too face starvation as the slightest shock will push them over the cliff into famine. Also read: Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 in doubt, UN report warns "The situation in 2021 is not business as usual, and it’s getting worse. We are extremely concerned about the world’s most vulnerable people as food prices continue to rise globally," WFP said. WFP is undertaking the biggest operation in its history targeting 139 million people this year. WFP is focused on scaling up life-saving food and nutrition assistance to meet the essential needs of those furthest behind, overcoming access challenges and expanding cash-based transfers with significant scale-ups foreseen across several operations including Ethiopia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Syria. Also read: Public Development Banks for greater commitment to tackle global hunger, poverty WFP needs US$5 billion in 2021 to avert famine and meet the urgent food and nutrition needs of those people most at risk, but the price of doing nothing is exponentially higher.The $5 billion for famine mitigation is approximately one-third of WFP’s total resourcing needs of $15 billion for 2021.
South Korea has decided to provide $4 million this year to international agencies having presence in Bangladesh with a view to support the Rohingya refugees and their host communities. The contribution will be used for the humanitarian activities of UN agencies and other international organizations to support the Rohingya refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh under the recently announced 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. This year’s $4 million contribution has been allocated to the UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, IOM and IFRC. An amount of $1 million had already been disbursed to IOM to assist the emergency response to the massive fire in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in March, said the South Korean Embassy in Dhaka on Wednesday. Supporting the host community, addressing gender-based violence, supporting children and girls, and responding to emergencies and disaster relief are among the priority areas for Korea in its support for the Rohingya refugees and the host community. In addition to the financial contributions, the Republic of Korea, through KOICA, has also implemented a number of humanitarian projects to support the Rohingya refugees and host communities in partnership with other international organizations and international NGOs. Read: JRP 2021: Dhaka seeks permanent solution to Rohingya crisis In cooperation with UNFPA, KOICA is implementing a project to support the menstrual health of women and girls in Cox’s Bazar which is worth $3 million for the period of 2021-24. KOICA is also working with NGOs such as Adi, World Vision, and Concern Worldwide in Cox’s Bazar on various projects supporting the refugees and the host community. As a trusted partner of Bangladesh, the Korean Government has been closely working with the international community to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis since the outbreak in 2017. Korea has provided the international community with around $20 million between 2017 and 2021 for Rohingya refugee-related activities in Bangladesh. This humanitarian assistance will help protect the displaced persons and host communities. The Republic of Korea said they will continue to work closely with the international community as well as the Bangladeshi Government to address the humanitarian crisis and search for durable solutions focused on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar.