EU to provide $ 33.6 million to Bangladesh to expand food security

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Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNI) The European Union will provide 33.6 million dollars in grants to Bangladesh to expand food security programmes in for the next five years in the riverine country.

The Financing Agreement was signed here today by Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, Secretary External Resources Division (ERD) and EU Ambassador Stefan Frowein at ERD.

The objective of the Food Security Programme, 2006 is reduction of extreme poverty and malnutrition in Bangladesh by improving the socio-economic conditions of the very poor and by managing and improving food security in an effective way, an EU release said.

The programme was developed in line with the overall objectives of the European Commission's 2007-2013 Country Strategy Paper for Bangladesh which focuses on reducing poverty and assisting Bangladesh's integration into the world economy.

The intervention will tackle several specific areas of food insecurity aimed at improving the availability, access and utilisation of food among vulnerable groups and strengthening the capacity of the Bangladesh government.

Although poverty rates in Bangladesh have gone down by about 10 percentage points since the early 1990s it still has the third highest absolute number of poor and malnourished people in the world, affecting almost half its population.

Women and children remain especially vulnerable.

Since 1976 food aid, and more recently food security, has been a central area of European Commission's interventions in Bangladesh.

While the focus in the early 1990s was on food availability and agricultural production, the approach has evolved to food security interventions supporting income generation, training and capacity building.

The shift in strategy tackling food insecurity in Bangladesh has been set against the background of an increasing trend towards cereal (rice) self sufficiency at a national level and the need to directly address sustainable development for the most vulnerable groups as well as improving Bangladesh's policy environment.

Parallel to the Food Security Programme 2006, the implementation of actions such as Vulnerable Group Development for Ultra-Poor, Rural Employment Opportunities for Public Assets, Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Project, Food Security for Sustainable Household Livelihoods project and others increase the complementarities of the EC's food security support in Bangladesh, the release added.

UNI

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