RAHIM YAR KHAN-Minister of State and BISP Chairperson Marvi Memon visited Rahim Yar khan on Saturday where she was briefed on research on the effectiveness of a nutrition program involving Specialized Nutritious Foods (SNF),Cash-Based Transfers and Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) to prevent stunting among children in district.

The programme is being carried out by World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with BISP, Integrated Reproductive Mother Neonatal Child Health (IRMNCH) Program Punjab and Agha Khan University.

The research which will be concluded in 2019 would be showcased to the world for best practices and is thus the focus of much international attention.

This research is being done under the Letter of Understanding (LOU) signed between WFP, BISP and Punjab Health Department to build evidence base of different nutrition sensitive mechanisms that can contribute to the reduction of chronic malnutrition amongst under two years of age children in Pakistan.

The study is being conducted within BISP beneficiaries having pregnant and lactating women and 6-23 months old children in BISP households.

Speaking to the officials of WFP, Punjab Health Department, Agha Khan University and BISP beneficiaries, Chairperson BISP stated that food insecurity is matter of high concern as 44pc of children in Pakistan, 39 pc in Punjab and 42 pc in Rahim Yar Khan less than 5 years of age are stunted, adding that this alarming situation needs to be tackled at the earliest.

She claimed that BISP is taking lead in war against stunting as this research would provide a scalable sustainable model for integrating nutrition specific and sensitive approaches to BISP, thus furthering gains in curbing malnutrition.

She said that as these children belong to the poorest segment of society, BISP's role is pivotal in this fight against malnutrition.

She said that financial assistance through BISP is effectively helping the downtrodden in meeting their basic needs, particularly food and health.

In the briefing, Shahzada Rashid, WFP Punjab Head and Programme Officer Salma Yaqub informed that "Wawamum" and "Maamta" are being provided to children between 6-24 months and pregnant and lactating mothers respectively.

The identified BISP beneficiaries would also be provided with behaviour change communication.