Micronutrient malnutrition affects more than 20 million children and women (at least 50% of this population) in Bangladesh. The diets of more than 85% of women and children in Bangladesh are inadequate in essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, largely because adequate amounts of foods containing these micronutrients are not available, or the household purchasing power for these foods is inadequate. In Bangladesh and many other developing countries, large-scale programmes are needed to make a significant impact on this overwhelming malnutrition problem. There has been limited experience and success in expanding small-scale pilot programmes into large-scale, community-based programmes. This paper describes the development and expansion of the Bangladesh homestead gardening programme, which has successfully increased the availability and consumption of vitamin A-rich foods. The programme, implemented by Helen Keller International through partnerships with local non-governmental organizations, encourages improvements in existing gardening practices, such as promotion of year-round gardening and increased varieties of fruits and vegetables. We present our experience with the targeted programme beneficiaries, but we have observed that neighbouring households also benefit from the programme. Although this spillover effect amplifies the benefit, it also makes an evaluation of the impact more difficult. The lessons learned during the development and expansion of this community-based programme are presented. There is a need for an innovative pilot programme, strong collaborative partnerships with local organizations, and continuous monitoring and evaluation of programme experiences. The expansion has occurred with a high degree of flexibility in programme implementation, which has helped to ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme. In addition to highlighting the success of this programme, useful insights about how to develop and scale up other food-based programmes as well as programmes in other development sectors are provided.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Nutrition and Dietetics