Nepalis win WB projects

KATHMANDU: Four Nepali organisations have bagged the World Bank Grant Competition Awards funded by South Asia Region Development Marketplace (SARDM).

Vijaya Development Resource Center — that aims to improve young children feeding practices through micronutrient supplements, Equal Access Nepal — with its proposal to enhance birth weight and survival of infants and MaxPro Pvt Ltd with its idea to develop a community based distribution network for iodized salt won the awards. Helen Keller International Inc — yet another winning innovation from Nepal — aiming to reduce malnutrition in children less than two years old, was the fourth awardee.

Twenty-one civil society organisations from across South Asia won grants worth $840,000 for Grass Root Initiatives to address malnutrition in South Asia funded by SARDM. The winners received up to $40,000 each to implement innovative ideas on how to improve nutrition in their respective countries.

“Malnutrition is one of the most challenging issues facing South Asia,” said Isabel Guerrero, WB’s vice-president, South Asia Region, at the opening ceremony in Dhaka yesterday. “Poor nutrition robs the child of a chance to succeed and live a healthy, productive life. Investment in nutrition is one of the social policy interventions that has the highest impact for each dollar spent, in improving a child’s future.”

“We believe that by integrating health and agriculture we can lead to better nutrition outcomes. This event has given us a platform to learn how the processes of behaviour change happen when you combine household food security and essential nutrition action,” said Pooja Pandey Rana from Helen Keller International Inc.

With the funds awarded today, the winners have up to 18 months to plan and implement their innovative projects.

India was the most represented country among winners, with nine out of the 21 winning proposals. Bangladesh and Nepal tied at second place with four winners each. Pakistan followed with two winners. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had one winning proposal each.

“Family and Community Approaches to Improve Infant and Young Child Nutrition,” was this year’s title in the competition that was designed to identify some of the most innovative ideas to improve nutrition, focusing especially on children under two years of age and pregnant women.

The competititon drew nearly 1000 applications from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Through a vigorous assessment process by international development experts, the applicants were narrowed down to 60 finalists who showcased their ideas today in Dhaka.

Guerrero, during her opening remarks, emphasised on the outcome of the Development Marketplace saying that it is precisely the learning that comes from the exchange of ideas and experiences among all participants. Dr A F M Ruhal Haque, Bangladesh’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare inaugurated the opening ceremony extending a warm welcome to all participants and praising the initiative. Abul Maal Muhit, Bangladesh’s Minister for Finance handed over the certificates to the winners during the closing ceremony.

A Bangladeshi proposal to promote nutritional status of malnourished children of commercial sex workers and families of people living with HIV/AIDS won the People’s Choice Award, following popular voting by visitors who attended the Development Marketplace in Dhaka.

The South Asia Regional Development Marketplace was sponsored by UNICEF, World Food Programme, PepsiCo, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), GTZ (Germany), and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).