32% of children in Nepal chronically malnourished: Report

Rice culture in nepal: The staple food of Nepal rice and paddy imports
Rice: The staple food of Nepal

Kathmandu, December 17

Multidimensional poverty, vulnerability to shocks including the economic slowdown from Covid-19 and weak infrastructure impede the progress towards reducing undernutrition and malnutrition among children in Nepal, a report states.

According to the National Planning Commission (NPC)’s study, 32 per cent of children in Nepal are chronically malnourished while 17 per cent of Nepali women are overweight or obese.

The report unveiled here today cites the prevalence of stunting among the poorest households is more than double that of the richest quintile. Micronutrient deficiency or ‘hidden hunger’ is caused by inadequate diversity and limited essential nutrients in diets.

Another finding of the Fill the Nutrient Gap Analysis initiated by the NPC in 2020 is that the lowest cost nutritious diet is, at the national average, 348 per five-person household per day. As the report states, a nutritious diet is more than twice as expensive as a diet that meets only energy diets.

Likewise, in some mountain areas, over 60 per cent of households would not be able to afford a nutritious diet.

The analysis supported by the World Food Programme used a food system approach to better understand the barriers to consuming national diets including how economic barriers prevent households from affording healthy food.

Unveiling the report, NPC member Dil Bahadur Gurung underlined the need for credible data to rightly intervene in the malnutrition issues and this type of analysis would help come up with the right policies and programmes against malnutrition. The WFP country director Robert Kasca recommended the implementation of social security programmes, livelihood support programmes and school mid-day programmes targeting the households facing economic barriers to affording nutritious food to address their nutritional requirements.

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