A mom’s story

For Nasima, nothing is more important than the health of the baby boy she is expecting. She lives in the village of Bambaria, in a flood prone area of northern Bangladesh with her day-labourer husband, her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Home is a small bamboo hut and putting food on the table is a daily struggle.

“My first baby died during delivery last year – the journey to the hospital by boat and cart was long and I was weak,” she says. She is determined that will not happen again.

Nasima, 19, is receiving nutritional support from WFP, under its programme for pregnant and nursing mothers. Her rations are delivered to her home every fortnight – a premixed combination of cereal flour and vitamin-fortified oil.

“I mix it with clean water, as they taught us, and make this WFP food into a porridge. Even if I get a little queasy these days, I make sure that I eat this WFP food morning and evening,” she says.

“I know that this food is making my baby strong so he will get the best start when he arrives in this world,” says Nasima. “He is the first grandchild for both our families, so he is very precious.”

Expectant mothers like Nasima are also trained through the WFP programme on hygiene, breastfeeding, how to prepare foods for young children and the essentials of a balanced diet.

Nasima will continue to receive her food supplement up until her baby is six months old while he is being exclusively breast fed. She will then receive supplementary foods for her son, in the crucial weaning period.

Despite having made inroads into poverty, Bangladesh has high levels of under nutrition.

Improving maternal and child nutrition is a pillar of WFP’s work. When a mother is malnourished she is more likely to have a low birth weight baby, who in turn will be more likely to get sick, have trouble concentrating in school and may earn less in adult life. This is called intergenerational nutrition.

WFP intervenes in the crucial 1000-day window from conception to two years of age, during which time not receiving sufficient nutrients can cause irreversible damage to the brains and bodies of youngsters.

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