Dietary Diversity (DD)
Dietary diversity is the inclusion of items from different food groups that are essential for a balanced and nutritious diet. Dietary diversity is of extreme importance to protect children from malnutrition and stunted growth. Maintaining dietary diversity is also important for women of reproductive age to avoid death in infants and malnutrition in young children.
Suchana provides a range of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions for poor and very poor households in Sylhet and Moulvibazar to ensure minimum dietary diversity (MDD) in beneficiary households (BHHs).
Shilpy Begum is 30 years old and lives in Dakshin Bagha village of Sylhet. Before being introduced to Suchana, she was already a mother of two children, and struggling constantly with their health.
Shilpy’s knowledge of parenting and diet was limited. Her children’s diet consisted mainly of rice and was limited to 2-3 meals a day. Her children were always getting sick, and were constantly weak. Her son was diagnosed with pneumonia three times, and her daughter was often suffering from one illness or another.
Shilpy was introduced to Suchana at the beginning of 2018 and began learning about dietary diversity in a courtyard session she attended with her neighbours. She learned about the importance of a diversified diet, and how to have easy access to ideal food sources year-round. Shilpy’s family did not grow vegetables previously, and were dependent on vegetables bought from the market. Shilpy started her own vegetable patch with seeds supplied by Suchana. She also received 18 ducks, 2 chickens, and a sheep. Home-grown eggs, poultry and vegetables meant she could now provide her children with a more diversified diet every day, consisting of three meals and a couple of additional snacks.
When Shilpy had a daughter in 2019, she made sure her daughter received the right diet from the very beginning. She also maintained good cleanliness and hygiene, the way she had learned through Suchana. Now 20 months old, Shilpi’s youngest is healthy and active, and has avoided major illness. Her elder two children are also healthier than they were before.
“I did not know about the right kinds of food my children need, but now I know. I also know how to produce different kinds of vegetables and leafy greens so that I don’t have to buy them anymore. I can also help other women around me with important advice on children’s diet.”
Shilpy Begum, 30 Dakshin Bagha
Dietary diversity ensures proper nutrition and growth in children and women, which in turn protects them from malnutrition. Malnutrition leads to stunted growth in children and deaths in infants. Proper nutrition in children alone is not sufficient, as the health of a child depends significantly on proper nutrition of the mother, which also necessitates dietary diversity for women and adolescent girls.
Despite Bangladesh’s progress in reducing stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, 6 million children in the country remain chronically malnourished. According to the Demographic and Health Survey 2014, Sylhet, situated in the northeast, is the worst-affected area, with a staggering infant mortality rate of 49.6% of all children and 67 per live 1,000 births. Proper nutrition in women and children can help to reduce mortality and stunting in infants in the region, and ensure minimum dietary diversity.
House CWN (A) 35, Road 43, Gulshan 2, Dhaka 1212