Government, Development Sector Leaders Should Turn To Bangladesh Program For Solutions To Avoidable Childhood Death

For solutions to help end avoidable child deaths, “government and development sector leaders should heed the lessons of a massive-yet-innovative program” in Bangladesh, called SHOUHARDO, a Bangla word for “friendship,” “that is not only helping children … reach their fifth birthdays but also ensuring they grow healthier, and in many cases, taller,” Faheem Khan of CARE Bangladesh, who heads the SHOUHARDO program, writes in this Christian Science Monitor opinion piece. The first phase of the program, which is run by CARE, USAID, and the government of Bangladesh, was implemented from 2004 to 2010 and “represented the largest non-emergency USAID food security program in the world,” Khan writes.

“SHOUHARDO is about much more than food,” Khan continues, noting it “employs an integrated approach that addresses how people support their families and access nutritious meals,” and “it strikes at the underlying causes of malnutrition, including the deep inequities between women and men.” He discusses the program in detail and notes, “The results of SHOUHARDO have been phenomenal: Over the last four years, child stunting, the measure of the shortfall in growth due to malnutrition, has plummeted 28 percent despite natural disasters and spikes in food prices.” He concludes, “The fight against global hunger is complex and challenging. But SHOUHARDO demonstrates an integrated approach combining women’s empowerment with other nutrition- and health-focused initiatives can help ensure children reach their fifth birthdays and beyond” (5/9).