President launches movement to make ‘Baliyo’ Nepal
KAROBAR CORRESPONDENT
Saturday, Nov 02, 2019
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At a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the President Bidya Devi Bhandari formally launched Baliyo Nepal, a national movement focused on engaging the nation in the fight against malnutrition.
Baliyo Nepal is led by an independent not-for-profit organization registered with the Government of Nepal since April 2019 and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Baliyo Nepal is committed to work towards ensuring that all Nepalis have access to nutritious and affordable food, along with inspiring all Nepalis to make healthy food choices for their children. It represents a new approach to fighting the problem of hidden hunger in Nepal.
The not-for-profit organisation is developing a range of interventions to improve food habits, with a focus on lower-income adolescent girls, women of reproductive age and children from the age of 6 to 23 months.
The President welcomed this important initiative, telling the audience of influential dignitaries. “Today we are launching a national effort to tackle hidden hunger,” she said, adding that together we can nourish the individual and collective dreams of the next generation. “We have made significant progress through the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plans, but Nepal needs to accelerate its efforts to reduce stunting to 15 percent and beyond by 2030, in line with the UN’s SDGs. We can only do this, if we all act collectively.”
On the occasion, chief minister of Province 5 Shankar Pokharel, said Baliyo Nepal has been launched by President and will begin work in Province 5. “I believe this campaign will help to fight malnutrition providing good health to the citizen and welcome Baliyo Nepal,” he added.
Likewise, speaking at the launch of the initiative today, the chairman of Baliyo Nepal Dr Swarnim Wagle, said that Baliyo Nepal works to ensure that as many Nepalis as possible have access to good, nutritious food and inspire them to make the best choices for their children. “You might not feel it in the belly, but hidden hunger can strike every young Nepali. From the rice-feeding ceremony onwards, everyone has a role to play in helping to give kids a healthy start,” he said, adding that the initiative is designed to educate Nepalis on healthy eating and the need to take action on hidden hunger. “As an ex-chairman of the National Planning Committee, what really makes this effort stand out is the way our organisation is working with the food industry to create more affordable and accessible nutritious food available. “The response from the wider private sector has also been hugely encouraging and their support will allow us to ensure that our behaviour change campaigns reach as many Nepalis as possible.”
”We have all started on this journey together because we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility, not just their parents, to give Nepali children the best start in life,” he added.
Likewise, deputy director at the Private Sector Partnership Development for Nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Kamel Chida, represented the Foundation at the event, said, “What if I told you we could dramatically accelerate progress and inch towards ending malnutrition in a generation in Nepal? That is the vision of Baliyo Nepal – a future where every Nepali child could grow into their full potential and with them the nation too.”
“We can go farther faster if we go together,” he said, adding that the Foundation welcomes Nepal to join as together we can nourish the dreams of a nation for a Baliyo Nepal. “And if it works in Nepal, this model could also be replicated in other countries.”
Baliyo Nepal for Nepal, Nepal for the World.”
Baliyo Nepal is governed by an independent board of diverse Nepali leaders spanning government, civil society and the private sector. The board members include former Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Swarnim Wagle, Global Executive Committee Member of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) at Geneva and President of the Civil Society Alliance for Nutrition, Nepal Dr. Uma Koirala, former Captain of National Cricket Team Paras Khadka,vice president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Nirvana Chaudhary, and CEO of Nabil Bank Anil Shah ,
The Baliyo Nepal Nutrition Initiative’s first programme aims at reducing the risk of nutritional deficiencies among children aged 6 to 23 months by promoting healthy complementary feeding options, partnering with companies to grow the consumption of eggs and fortified porridge. The newly-launched organisation will work with the food industry to increase the supply of affordable and nutritious food. It also works to generate demand for more nutritious food by building a movement through social marketing and behaviour change interventions to engage citizens. This initial promotional activity will be focused in selected municipalities before going nationwide.
The organisation will be partnering with food companies that can make genuine impact in nutritional quality, accessibility and affordability. Initially working with four companies (Shreenagar Agro Farms, Avinash, Bhuramal Lunkarandas Conglomerate and K.L. Dugar Group), Baliyo Nepal seeks to increase the consumption of eggs and fortified porridge and the accessibility of these products. For example, BLC & Dugar will launch the first individual affordable single serve sachets of fortified porridge in Nepal beginning in December; such packaging will help in the use of fortified foods, due to convenience and attractiveness that is the hallmark of other, less healthy, products. Partners’ products must meet a high nutritional standard, either by being naturally rich in nutrients or being fortified to acceptable levels; to verify nutritional standards, Baliyo Nepal will be following the Australian Government’s Health Star Rating system and require all products to have a 3 star rating or higher.
The organisation has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who issued a grant to support the set-up and management of Baliyo Nepal. They continue to support the organization by connecting Baliyo Nepal with other Foundation investments in nutrition science, product development, consumer marketing and behaviour change.