Nutrition

We work to ensure that all children in Nepal are well-nourished with healthy and balanced nutrition to survive and grow

UNICEF/2015/CKarki

The Challenge

To reduce stunting and wasting among children through maternal, infant and young child feeding and management of severe acute malnutrition.

Investments in nutrition – particularly in the earliest years of life – can yield dramatic results for children, their families, and communities.

Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children are better able to grow and learn, to participate in and contribute to their communities, and be resilient in the face of disease, disasters, and other global crises. But for the millions of children suffering from malnutrition, reality is stark. For millions more, this chronic malnutrition will result in stunting – an irreversible condition that literally stunts the physical and cognitive growth of children.

The good news is that we can change this and Nepal has made some big changes in the past two decades.

  • Child undernutrition rates substantially declined over the past two decades. The prevalence of stunting (short height for age) among children under five decreased from 57 per cent in 1996 to 36 per cent in 2016. During the same period, the prevalence of underweight (low weight for age) reduced from 42 per cent to 27 percent and child wasting (low weight for height) from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • 95 per cent of children live in households that consume iodized salt.
  • Vitamin A prophylaxis coverage for children aged 6 to 59 months stands at 86 per cent.
  • Nepal was recognized as an “early riser” by the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement for successful nutrition programme.

But, we still need to make progress as:

  • the current stunting rate is still unacceptably high.
  • 10 per cent of children under five years of age are wasted (low weight for height).
  • 66 per cent of children aged 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed.
  • Only 47 per cent children aged 6-23 months are receiving diversified diets and 36 per cent of them receive a minimum acceptable diet.

53 per cent of children under five and 69 percent of children aged 6-23 months are suffering from anaemia. Similarly, 44 per cent of adolescent girls, 46 per cent of pregnant women and  41 per cent of women of reproductive age are suffering from anaemia.

UNICEF Nepal/2017/ADhakal

The Solution

Provide improved and equitable access for all children, including adolescent girls, and women of reproductive age, to adequate nutritious diets and improved nutritional care.

The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer an extraordinary window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences. We need to target our actions to this critical period, using widely accepted and evidence-based interventions, including support for breastfeeding, appropriate complementary foods for infants over six months, and micronutrient supplementation for women and children to address deficiencies. These investments in nutrition – particularly in the earliest years of life – can yield dramatic results for children, their families, and communities.

In the current country programme (2018-2022), the nutrition component will be guided by the Multi Sectoral Nutrition Plan - II (MSNP 2018-2022), which was launched in December 2017 to improve the nutritional status of the population.  Efforts will be made to improve the feeding practices of adolescents, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children.  

UNICEF supports the Government of Nepal in the implementation of comprehensive nutrition through the Ministry of Health. This includes:

  • Promoting healthy, nutritious and diversified diets for adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children.
  • Fortifying diets of young children aged 6-23 months with multiple micronutrient powder (MNP).
  • Promoting iodized salt.
  • Supplementing Vitamin A for children aged 6-59 months.
  • Deworming of children aged 13-59 months.
  • Supplementing iron folate for adolescent girls, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
  • Nutrition education and counselling. 

UNICEF also supports the Government in treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition as well as in providing emergency nutrition response and recovery actions.  UNICEF supports local government units for the implementation of nutrition-sensitive action across education, water and sanitation, women and children, and agriculture in line with MSNP II.  Gender equality and social inclusion and Disaster Risk Management has been mainstreamed within the nutrition programs. UNICEF closely works with the National Planning Commission as well as the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration for the overall leadership, capacity-building and coordination for the implementation of MSNP II and to support in creating enabling environments. UNICEF is closely working with the National Planning Commission as well as the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration for the overall leadership, capacity-building and coordination for the implementation of MSNP II and to support in creating enabling environments through the 'Poshanka Laagi Haatemalo' (Partnership for Improved Nutrition), funded by the European Union.  

UNICEF/2016/GPirozzi