We are shocked to know that despite Bangladesh’s progress in terms of food security, there are still 24.2 million Bangladeshis who are undernourished. In fact, in the last decade, the number of underfed people has actually increased by almost a million. These disturbing findings are a part of a UN report which also states that one in every six persons in the country do not get sufficient food. As we aspire to be a middle-income country and place great emphasis on development, how can we reconcile such dire living standards of millions of people with the progress we have made?
The report, prepared by five UN organisations, examines the level of undernourishment in countries all over the world, Bangladesh being one of them. According to experts, just having enough food does not have much impact on the poor unless they have access to it and this seems to be the crux of the problem. No doubt food production has increased but other adverse situations have also arisen. The consequences of climate change and urbanisation have also led to more people not getting enough food. Add to that rising inequality and changing food habits that also contribute to malnutrition.
The report has emphasised economic and social policies that will protect food security while ensuring that there are no cuts in essential services such as education and healthcare. While Bangladesh has reduced the number of severely undernourished people, it still has a long way to go before all its citizens get adequate food. The government must ensure that farmers are incentivised to grow food, that people are aware of what kind of food comprises a balanced diet and that underprivileged people have access to it. Without such measures, there will still be millions of people who do not have enough food to eat with huge implications on the country’s development.