30 December 2010The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has decided to extend its country programme in Bangladesh until the end of 2011 to provide support to 2.1 million hungry, vulnerable and malnourished people in the South Asian nation. The operation includes programmes to reduce malnutrition and improve the food security of extremely poor households in the country, WFP stated in a news release. Support will also continue to be extended to enhancing the resilience of disaster-stricken communities through food-for-work and cash-for-work schemes, as well as towards a gradual handover of the school meals programme to the Government, the agency added.“The one-year extension of the ongoing country programme will not only strengthen our partnership with the Government but also support Bangladesh in achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Christa Räder, WFP Representative in Bangladesh.The MDGs are targets set by world leaders to slash extreme poverty and hunger, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases, and lack of access to education and medical care, all by 2015.As part of its efforts in Bangladesh, WFP has supported the Government’s Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme, the largest safety net scheme in the country, for 30 years. Under its new country strategy, WFP’s food distribution programme under VGD will be phased out by the end of this year. The Government has increased its own food and cash contributions to VGD and will cover the needs previously met by WFP. Meanwhile, WFP will continue to focus its community nutrition efforts on areas with high child undernutrition. With the necessary funds, it aims to reach 125,000 acutely undernourished women and children, including 82,000 children under five, 31,000 pregnant and nursing women and another 12,000 children aged 6-24 months, who will receive specialized blended food fortified with micronutrients at certain times of the year.