Sindh CM launches EU funded nutrition-improvement programme

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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah launched the European Union (EU) funded Programme for Improved Nutrition in Sindh (PINS) here in Karachi on Tuesday.

The primary focus of the programme is to sustainably improve the nutritional status of children under the age of five and of pregnant women. The programme will be implemented in ten districts of Sindh namely Shikarpur, Thatta, Kambar Shahdadkot, Larkana, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Sajawal, Tando Allahyar and Tando Muhammad Khan.

This four-year programme is focused on building the capacities of the Sindh government for an effective implementation of its multi-sectoral nutrition policy while providing direct assistance in order to significantly and rapidly reduce the problem of malnutrition in rural Sindh.

Addressing the launching ceremony, the chief minister said that malnutrition has become a major issue for the province and the situation is very alarming. Only sincere and concerted efforts could control the situation, he warned.

“Government of Sindh aims at reducing the stunting rate from the existing 48 percent to 40 percent by 2021 in the province,” he said.

Acknowledging the efforts, the CM thanked EU and resolved Sindh government will continue to work with EU and other donor organisations in the future.

“The fact saddens me that half of Sindh’s women and children suffer from stunting and malnutrition, which is a great burden. We have to make this programme successful for our province,” he said.

Overall, Sindh has the highest rate of child and maternal undernutrition- 40 percent and 62 percent respectively.

The programme will be implemented by Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) and Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) with Action Against Hunger (ACF) and Conseil Sante as programme partners.

The Ambassador of European Union Jean-François Cautain said malnutrition and stunting are the key issues. With this, not only children are suffering but it has an impact on society and overall growth of Sindh, the ambassador added.

Mentioning other programmes of EU on nutrition and poverty reduction, the ambassador said that the EU’s support to fight malnutrition is one element, but it is important to combine different interventions and enhance coordination between different departments of Sindh government to get the best outcomes of EU support.

“Support to improve nutrition status in Sindh is part of EU’s global commitment to reduce stunting at the global level. Our objective is to reduce stunting at least by 7 million children around the world by 2025,” he said.

Addressing the ceremony, Coordinator to Chief Minister on Nutrition Mir Ali said that over the four years of its interventions, the 68 million Euros programme will focus on the capacity building of the Sindh government and other stakeholders on nutrition-related policy and strategy development.

Under the programme, small farmers with less than five acres of land will also be supported for improved crop production through the introduction of climate-smart crop production technologies, training and provision of inputs.

Sindh Planning & Development Board Chairman Muhammad Waseem also thanked EU for extending support to fight malnutrition in ten districts of Sindh. Chairman Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN) Shoaib Sultan Khan also appreciated the support of EU in this regard.

He said that to make an intervention a success and ensure that impact is long-lasting, engaging organised communities is crucial as this would enable us to reach every household.

Planning & Development Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bajarani, provincial secretaries, Sindh government and EU officials, Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and management of RSPN, development professionals, academia and journalists also attended the event.