President Bidya Devi Bhandari, amidst a special ceremony at the President’s House, formally launched Baliyo Nepal, a national movement focused on engaging the nation in the fight against malnutrition. Baliyo Nepal is led by an independent not-for-profit organization registered with the Government of Nepal since April 2019 and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Baliyo Nepal is committed to work towards ensuring that all Nepalis have access to nutritious and affordable food, along with inspiring all Nepalis to make healthy food choices for their children. It represents a new approach to fighting the problem of hidden hunger in Nepal.
The not-for-profit organization is developing a range of interventions to improve food habits, with a focus on lower-income adolescent girls, women of reproductive age and children from the age of 6 to 23 months.
President Bhandari welcomed this important initiative, telling the audience of influential dignitaries:
“Today we are launching a national effort to tackle hidden hunger. Together we can nourish the individual and collective dreams of the next generation.”
“We have made significant progress through the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plans, but Nepal needs to accelerate its efforts to reduce stunting to 15% and beyond by 2030, in line with the UN’s SDGs. We can only do this, if we all act collectively.”
Chief Minister Mr. Shankar Pokharel of Province 5, attending the inauguration, said:
“Today Baliyo Nepal has been launched by Rt. Honorable President and will begin work in Province 5. I believe this campaign will help to fight malnutrition providing good health to the citizen and welcome Baliyo Nepal.”
Speaking at the launch of the initiative today, the Chairman of Baliyo Nepal, Dr Swarnim Wagle,said:
“Baliyo Nepal works to ensure that as many Nepalis as possible have access to good, nutritious food and inspire them to make the best choices for their children.”
“You might not feel it in the belly, but hidden hunger can strike every young Nepali. From the rice-feeding ceremony onward, everyone has a role to play in helping to give kids a healthy start.”
“Our initiative is designed to educate Nepalis on healthy eating and the need to take action on hidden hunger. As an ex-Chairman of the National Planning Committee, what really makes this effort stand out is the way our organization is working with the food industry to create more affordable and accessible nutritious food available. The response from the wider private sector has also been hugely encouraging and their support will allow us to ensure that our behaviour change campaigns reach as many Nepalis as possible”, he continued.
”We have all started on this journey together because we believe that it is everyone’s responsibility, not just their parents, to give Nepali children the best start in life.”
Kamel Chida, Deputy Director, Private Sector Partnership Development for Nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, represented the Foundation at the event. In his remarks to the distinguished gathering, he said:
“What if I told you we could dramatically accelerate progress and inch towards ending malnutrition in a generation in Nepal? That is the vision of Baliyo Nepal – a future where every Nepali child could grow into their full potential and with them the nation too.
“We can go farther faster if we go together. We welcome you to join us – together we can nourish the dreams of a nation for a Baliyo Nepal. And if it works in Nepal, this model could also be replicated in other countries. Baliyo Nepal for Nepal, Nepal for the World.”
Baliyo Nepal board members, Mr Anil Shah, Nirvana Chaudhary and ParasKhadka, then invited young children on to the stage to offer their own vote of thanks, the Baliyo Nepal ‘Namaste’, which asks whether children could be as strong as Everest [pictured].
The gesture was complimented by a new film that has been created by Baliyo Nepal to encourage all Nepalis to join the movement. It can be viewed on baliyonepal.com and will be screened across the country in the coming weeks, ahead of the organization’s first major initiatives to promote complementary feeding.
What is Baliyo Nepal?
The Baliyo Nepal Nutrition Initiative’s first program aims at reducing the risk of nutritional deficiencies among children aged 6 to 23 months by promoting healthy complementary feeding options, partnering with companies to grow the consumption of eggs and fortified porridge. The newly-launched organization will work with the food industry to increase the supply of affordable and nutritious food. It also works to generate demand for more nutritious food by building a movement through social marketing and behaviour change interventions to engage citizens. This initial promotional activity will be focused in selected municipalities before going nationwide.