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World Bank Grant Competition Supports Innovative Approaches to Address Undernutrition in South Asia


In Dhaka:  Mehrin A. Mahbub  (880-2) 8159001-28  Ext. 4251  

In Washington: Benjamin Crow (202) 473 5105

Dhaka, August 2, 2009 ─ Civil society organizations from across South Asia will gather in Dhaka this week to take part in a grant competition – the Development Marketplace (DM) – where they will display some of the best and most innovative ideas on how to improve nutrition in the region.  The competition is hosted by the World Bank and is designed to showcase and fund such innovative approaches, focusing especially on children under two years of age and pregnant women.  

Titled “Family and Community Approaches to Improve Infant and Young Child Nutrition,” the DM event will bring together 60 civil society organizations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka who will compete for 20 grants of up to US$40,000 each to implement their ideas.

 “The scale of the undernutrition problem in South Asia is alarming,” said Isabel M. Guerrero, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia region. “Around 45 percent of South Asian children are undernourished, which is 60 percent higher than the undernutrition rate of Sub-Saharan Africa. We have all seen the devastating effect of poor nutrition. It robs a child of a chance to succeed and live a healthy, productive life and contribute to national development.  We hope this Development Marketplace initiative will raise awareness of the problem and arm people with knowledge and information that can help transform nutrition programs.”
This Development Marketplace was launched in February 2009 by reaching out to communities across South Asia seeking proposals for local, small-scale projects with the potential to be scaled up and replicated. In just over three months, almost 1,000 civil society organizations from across the region submitted proposals.
This DM event will showcase innovative approaches that can be incorporated into local and national nutrition strategies and programming,” said Andrea Vermehren, World Bank Senior Social Protection Specialist. “Importantly, it will highlight the need to empower women within their families and communities to address the socio-cultural determinants of undernutrition.”

Many prominent organizations have partnered with the World Bank to support the South Asia Regional Development Marketplace, including UNICEF, World Food Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Gates Foundation, PepsiCo, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), GTZ (Germany), and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that uses a participatory process to identify and support grassroots initiatives with innovative approaches to solving challenging development issues. Since 1998, the DM has awarded more than $54 million in grants.

For more information about the South Asia Development Marketplace, please visit:

For more information about the World Bank’s work in South Asia, please visit

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