President Bidya Bhandari (center) launched the national nutrition movement on Friday. In the picture are Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel (right) and Baliyo Nepal Chairman Swarnim Wagle. Photo: Republica
KATHMANDU, Nov 2: President Bidya Bhandari launched Baliyo Nepal, a national nutrition movement, amidst a special function at President’s Office, Shital Niwas on Friday. Baliyo Nepal seeks to mobilize private sector and civil society to support Nepal’s efforts in the reduction of chronic malnutrition and hunger.
Addressing the launching ceremony, President Bhandari highlighted the need for all stakeholders to work together to improve the status of nutrition for children and women of reproductive age. “All three layers of the government, communities, civil societies, donors, and scientific communities should work in tandem to fight malnutrition among children and women of reproductive age,” Bhandari said. President Bhandari also said that the commercial advertisements in the media have badly affected the choice of food items among children.
Chairperson of Baliyo Nepal Dr Swarnim Wagle said Nepal should redouble efforts to bring the level of stunting among children to 15% by 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “As we see our current efforts in terms of national investments and donors assistance, it looks like we would only be able to reduce it to 23 percent,” Wagle said. “It is important to engage private sector and civil society to realize the goals to complement the government efforts.”
Dr Wagle also informed that the organization is developing a range of interventions to improve food habits, with a focus on lower-income adolescent girls, women of reproductive age and children from 6 to 23 months.
Baliyo Nepal is establishing collaboration with the food industry to increase the supply of affordable and nutritious food and generating the demand for these products through social marketing and behavior change interventions, added Chairman Wagle. Baliyo Nepal is a not-for-profit organization, currently funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr Pusha Raj Kadel lauded Baliyo Nepal for bringing private sector onboard the initiative. “It is a praiseworthy initiative as it brings private sector together with the government to fight against malnutrition and realize the national goals of reducing stunting in children,” he said.
The movement will start from Province 5 in the first phase.
Chief Minister of Pradesh 5, Shankar Pokharel requested the private sector to apply basic nutritional standard while producing readymade foods. He also highlighted the need for promoting Nepal’s traditional food.
“Business as usual won’t improve the status of malnutrition in Nepal,” said Kamel Chida, a representative of Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation. He stressed the need for making Baliyo Nepal as a self-sustaining national grassroots movement.
Board members of Baliyo Nepal Nirvana Chaudhary and Anil Shah emphasized the importance of private sector making the movement successful. They also said that Baliyo Nepal would not compromise on the nutritional standards of food products.