A two-year joint research carried out by the World Food Programme and the International Food Policy Research Institute has come up with some interesting findings on how to improve the benefits of safety net programmes (SSNPs) being run in the country. Currently, programmes target ultra-poor women with small children and incorporate various components to improve their lot. These include cash only, food only, cash and food combined, and conducting training programmes. What the study has found is that the greatest impact comes when target households are given education on nutrition. The informed families change consumption patterns where nutritional value of food is given precedence. This has shown the greatest promise as many of the SSNPs are targeted at the 36 per cent of children in the country who suffer from stunted growth.
The learning from the research will help policymakers to bring requisite changes to various SSNPs, which is important as the country has allocated an estimated $3.9 billion in the current fiscal. Malnutrition is still a major problem in the country with about a quarter of the population living below the poverty line. Hence better information dissemination on what constitutes good food could go a long way in making children belonging to the poorer sections of society healthier. Research also shows that Bangladesh loses an estimated $1 billion in productivity linked to adults who suffered from nutrition deficiency as children. It is hoped that the results will be taken into consideration in making necessary changes in operationalising SSNPs to make future generations healthier.