KARACHI: Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah launched the European Union’s (EU) funded ‘Programme for Improved Nutrition in Sindh (PINS)’ Tuesday. The primary focus of the programme is to sustainably improve the nutritional status of children under five years and of pregnant and lactating Women (PLW) and will be implemented in ten districts of Sindh namely Shikarpur, Thatta, Kambar Shahdadkot, Larkana, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Sajawal, Tando Allahyar and Tando Mohammad Khan.
This four-year programme would specifically focus on building the capacities of the Government of Sindh for an effective implementation of its multi-sectoral nutrition policy while providing direct assistance to significantly and rapidly reducing malnutrition in rural Sindh.
Addressing the launching ceremony, the Chief Minister said malnutrition has become a major issue for the province and the situation is very alarming. Only sincere and concerted efforts could control the situation. Sindh government is committed to take up these challenges on priority. “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 that with PINS, the European Union is supporting the Sindh government in addressing this key issue of malnutrition, the Chief Minister 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, the Sindh province has the highest rate of child and maternal under nutrition, 40 percent and 62 percent respectively; child anaemia 73 percent, and food insecurity standing at 72 percent in Pakistan.
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 is a key issue. With this not only children are suffering but it has an impact on society and overall growth of Sindh. 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 its important to combine different interventions and enhance coordination along with the 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 global level,” he said. “Our objective is to reduce stunting at least by 7 million children around the world by 2025.”
Earlier addressing the ceremony, Coordinator to Chief Minister Sindh on Nutrition Mir Hussain Ali said that over the four years of its interventions, the 68 million Euro programme will focus on capacity building of the Government of Sindh and other stakeholders on nutrition-related policy and strategy development. “Treatment of malnutrition – Severe Acute Malnutrition from identification, outpatient therapeutic programme care to nutrition stabilisation centres according to protocols – in health facilities supported by an outreach programme to screen children and women, referral system for children’s follow up, focus on Infant Young Child Feeding for preventive work at facilities particularly for children with Moderate Acute Malnutrition, behaviour change communication programme for improved child care, and nutrition specific sanitation and feeding practices are some of the key objectives that the programme would work to achieve through its interventions,” he highlighted
Under the programme, small farmers with less than five acres of land will also be supported for improved crop production through introduction of climate-smart crop production technologies, training and provision of inputs.
Chairman Sindh Planning & Development Board Mohammad Waseem also thank EU for extending support to fight malnutrition in ten districts of Sindh. Chairman RSPN Shoaib Sultan Khan in his vote of thanks, appreciated the support of EU to the Programme for Improved Nutrition in Sindh. He said that to make an intervention a success and ensure that impact is long lasting, engaging organised communities, who are a social pillar of the state, is crucial as they are the only one who can reach out to every household and, once organised, they can achieve anything. Provincial Minister for Planning & Development Mir Hazar Khan Bajarani, provincial secretaries, Sindh government and EU officials, CEOs and management of RSPs and PINS partner organisations, development professionals, academia and journalists attended the event.