Chakraborty, Barnali (1,2); Yousefzadeh, Sepideh (1); Darak, Shrinivas (3); Haisma, Hinke (1) (2017). 'Child nutritional well-being in haor areas of Bangladesh: Parents’ stories from capability lens' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.



Child undernutrition is highly prevalent in the haor region of Bangladesh with over 45% of childhood stunting. Hoar is a kind of wetland located in the north-eastern part of the country. People endure four seasonal phases in haor: about 6 months’ wet season, about 6 months’ dry season and two transition phases (i.e., transition from wet to dry and dry to wet season).

Study Context and objective

Child nutrition has been explained in different frameworks as an outcome of multifactorial determinants. The key emphasis is put on the availability and accessibility of resource based interventions particularly for the children less than 2 years of age to avoid irreversible and long term consequences of undernutrition. A large body of literature by Sen and others reveals that achievement of outcomes of any sort doesn’t only depend on the availability or accessibility of resources but also on the conditions or settings where people live and grow up to constitute their real opportunities. When it comes to infant and young child nutrition it is closely connected to the caregivers’ (parents’) capabilities in providing good care to the children. The key objective in this study is to get insight into the contextual scenario of haor areas, particularly, the seasonal pattern and understand how the seasonal setting of haor shape the capabilities of parents towards achieving child nutritional wellbeing.


Data were collected between December 2016 to January 2017 employing qualitative methods in two sub-districts around haor region namely Derai from Sunamganj district and Baniachang from Habiganj district. A total of 8 focus group discussions (FGD) were facilitated with the parents of the children less than 2 years of age. Eight in-depth interviews (IDI) were conducted with the parents to get into the depth of the information at individual level. Sen's Capability Approach was used for the development of the interview guides and the subsequent analysis. Data were processed using N-Vivo software.


The parents mentioned that the schedule of the seasonal floods in haor is not predictable and can be different in different years and locations. Their stories and responses indicated a range of capability dimensions that they consider important for them to be achieved in shaping the nutritional wellbeing of their children less than 2 years. These include, capability to be employed (for fathers), to be mobile, being able to receive prenatal health checkup and delivery assistance, prenatal nutrition, feed the child, take the child to the health facility, practice sanitation, hygiene and access safe drinking water, practice autonomy in allocating time for child care, being educated, being able to live in safe environment, protect the child from indoor pollution, and ensure safe and adequate shelter for the child.Their stories indicated several individual, societal and environmental factors that interrupted or facilitated them in shaping their capabilities under each of the aforementioned dimensions.


The findings help to understand the seasonal context and barriers that people endure in haor to achieve their children’s nutritional wellbeing. The findings indicate that special attention is required to find out the ways of addressing the contextual barriers of haor dwellers to enhance their capabilities for child nutrition.

Key words: Child nutrition, seasonality, capability approach

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