WHAT IS BALIYO NEPAL?

Baliyo Nepal is a new not-for-profit company, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governed by an independent board of trusted members from Nepali civil society. We believe that Nepal can only be Baliyo (mighty) if we nourish our children’s dreams, which requires a new way to think about fighting malnutrition and tackling hidden hunger in the country. Baliyo Nepal works to ensure that as many Nepalis as possible have access to good, nutritious food and inspire them to make the best choices for their children.

WHAT WILL BALIYO NEPAL DO?

Baliyo Nepal represents a new way to think about fighting malnutrition and tackling hidden hunger in the country, which includes collaboration with the food industry to increase the supply of affordable and nutritious food and generating demand for these products through social marketing and behaviour change interventions.

HOW WILL A BALIYO NEPAL WORK?

We are developing a range of interventions to improve food habits, with a focus on lower-income adolescent girls, women of reproductive age and children from 6 to 23 months. Baliyo Nepal partners with the food industry to develop more nutritious products that are accessible and affordable, whilst working with the wider private sector and influencers across the country to help deliver a step-change in behaviour across the country. Promotional activities will grow over time, starting with a series of marketing efforts in Province 5 to encourage the purchase of Baliyo foods, as we seek to test and learn the most effective ways to increase consumption of nutritious products.

HOW IS BALIYO NEPAL DIFFERENT?

Our strategy is underpinned by a desire to create engagement, passion and action against malnutrition. Baliyo Nepal’s innovative, non-traditional approach uses the power of an organic community of supporters to build a self-sustaining national movement that brings together the whole of Nepali society around the shared goal of fighting hidden hunger. Working together with private sector partners and civil society, we are leading a consumer demand-and-supply shift to make more and more nutritious products available, accessible and popular amongst Nepali families.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE FOR OUR CAMPAIGN?

We are building a national movement to inspire all Nepalis to be ‘Baliyo’. We know that adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women, and infants of 6 to 23 months are the most important demographic category to ensure that the next generation grows up healthy. We will focus our efforts on these groups in particular.

WHY FOCUS ON 6-23 MONTHS OLD?

Early intervention in nutrition is vital, which is why we are prioritising interventions that will tackle malnutrition in children aged 6 to 23 months. After 2 years of age, stunting is largely irreversible, and stunting currently affects 36 percent of Nepali children. We are starting with this focus as it has the greatest potential impact on the future of individual children and Nepal overall. From our second year, Baliyo Nepal will be expanding its focus to include adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women and other groups affected by malnutrition.

WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL BALIYO NEPAL UNDERTAKE IN ITS FIRST YEAR?

Our first program aims at reducing the risk of nutritional deficiencies among children aged 6 to 23 months by promoting complementary feeding. We will be partnering with food companies that can make genuine impact in nutritional quality, accessibility and affordability. Initially working with four companies (Shreenagar Agro Farms, Avinash, Bhuramal Lunkarandas Conglomerate and K.L. Dugar Group), Baliyo Nepal seeks to increase the consumption of eggs and fortified porridge and the accessibility of these products. For example, BLC & Dugar will launch the first individual affordable single serve sachets of fortified porridge in Nepal beginning in December; such packaging will help in the use of fortified foods, due to convenience and attractiveness that is the hallmark of other, less healthy, products.

Our campaign is rooted in behavioural science but driven by modern marketing; our initial promotional activity will be focused on selected municipalities before going nationwide and be largely funded by our private sector partners. With the support of the Rt. Honarable President of Nepal, who officially launched our organisation on 1 st November 2019, we are running a national campaign and grass-roots programs to engage all sectors in changing the nation’s diet, making sure civil society, the private sector, the food industry and consumers are part of this movement. Initially we will focus on encouraging Nepalis to eat more eggs and fortified porridge (known as ‘leeto’ in Nepali) whilst we continue to seek to collaborate with the food industry to improve the nutritional profile of their products.

WHAT MEASURES WILL BALIYO NEPAL BE TAKING IN THE FUTURE?

Our strategy is to build national action by uniting Nepal in a common desire to tackle hidden hunger, driving awareness of the need for more nutritious consumption, initially focused on children aged 6 to 23 months and complementary feeding. In focusing our intervention in Province 5 in the first year, we are developing initiatives with the provincial government and 32 municipalities within the province, as well as female community health volunteers (FCHV), mothers’ groups, schools and shop-keepers to make the program for upscaling consumption of eggs and fortified porridge a reality. Over time, we will develop a ‘basket of Baliyo foods’ – a collection of fortified products and other nutritious edibles, accessible and affordable to lower income populations, and selected to meet Nepal’s nutritional needs.

We believe our approach brings together ‘impact’ with ‘opportunity’. Our partnerships with food partners aim to develop the size of both markets (eggs and fortified porridge), while also making the products more accessible and affordable to lower-income populations. Our goal is to increase the volume and frequency of consumption of these products. If we succeed, our food partners will benefit from this increased demand while simultaneously helping ensure that the children of Nepal benefit from a truly balanced diet.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL BALIYO NEPAL OFFER INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN/PARENTS?

Rather than a traditional intervention model of providing disbursements, Baliyo Nepal envisions a self-sustaining movement that aims to give parents the opportunity and motivation to make healthier food choices for their family. To do this, we believe that everyone in Nepali society has a role to play and must act without fail or delay, which is why we are engaging both parents and their wider families on these issues. A direct benefit will be education and awareness of the value of optimal nutrition and access to more affordable and accessible nutritious products.

WILL THERE BE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN THE CAMPAIGN?

While we will be launching our movement with the help of government and well-known celebrities, we hope to inspire broad backing and participation. We are actively engaging a wide spectrum from mayors and teachers to shopkeepers, health-workers and sports persons to spread the message and energise their communities to raise the challenge of hidden hunger through use of baliyo foods.

WHAT ROLE DOES THE PRIVATE SECTOR PLAY?

In addition to collaborating directly with food companies to develop more nutritious products that are accessible and affordable, a full cross-section of businesses have made firm commitments to support our effort, from the largest telecommunications company in Nepal to hotels, banks and various other private enterprises whose leadership shares our vision. With their funding and value-in-kind support, the Baliyo Nepal brand will be brought to life in a series of influencer activities, films, corporate sponsorship and packaging design. We will continue to work with food companies to identify highly-consumed products and complementary food that can impact the nutritional value of the average Nepali diet, especially those of lower-income populations, and seek private partners to help promote our brand.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF PACKAGED FOOD IN THE PROGRAMME?

Right now, many Nepalis do not have a balanced diet, so we are making sure that more and more nutritious products are available. Over time, we will develop a ‘basket of baliyo foods’ – a collection of products that are nutritious, accessible and affordable to lower-income populations. If we improve the overall nutritional quality of products that are heavily consumed by lower-income families, including packaged foods, we can have a significant impact on preventing and reducing malnutrition in Nepal.

WHICH FOODS WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR BEING PART OF THE ’BASKET OF BALIYO FOODS’?

The organisation will be partnering with food companies that can make genuine impact. For us, impact has three core elements: nutritional quality, accessibility and affordability. This means all our partners’ products must meet a high nutritional standard, either by being naturally rich in nutrients or being fortified to acceptable levels.  To verify standards, Baliyo Nepal will be following an internationally recognized system of nutrient profiling: the Health Star Rating system, developed by joint initiative of Australian and New Zealand Government. All foods will require to have a 3 Health star rating or higher to be included in Baliyo Nepal. This threshold is a challenging criterion when it comes to improving the nutrition profile of a packaged food. Two thirds of the globally assessed foods and beverages have a health star rating below 3.5.

It is equally important that our basket of goods can reach as many Nepalis as possible, and for this we have prioritised partners that have extensive distribution networks and are committed to creating an affordable product of high quality. In addition to these criteria, we also ask all our partners to carry our logo and messaging. 

WHAT IS THE HEALTH STAR RATING (HSR)?

The Health Star Rating is an internationally recognized system that assigns health ratings to packaged foods and beverages. The HSR is in place to control the amount of nutrients such as sugar, sodium, saturated fat and calories, ensuring that none of our products contribute to obesity or various non-communicable diseases. It classifies packaged foods based on their nutritional content and value in preventing disease and promoting good health. The number of stars is determined using a calculation designed to access positive and risk nutrients in food. Products are evaluated on a scale of 0.5 to 5, with more stars referring to healthier products.

HOW LONG IS THE WAIT BEFORE WE SEE THE CHANGES BROUGHT BY BALIYO NEPAL?

We will be able to measure and assess the reach of our initial activations to change the attitudes and mindsets of citizens in Province 5 within a period of several months. Meanwhile, we will also measure changes in purchasing practices and consumption of nutritious foods over time, which will allow us to understand whether people are beginning to act by purchasing from the Baliyo Nepal basket of goods. While we will not be able to extrapolate long-term changes in nutritional impact for some time, these initial measures will provide early indications of whether citizens are beginning to change their mindsets and practices on nutrition, and Baliyo Nepal’s contribution to these changes.

WHY IS THIS PILOT HAPPENING IN NEPAL? IS THIS CAMPAIGN CURRENTLY BEING RUN IN OTHER COUNTRIES ?

Nepal has made real strides in fighting malnutrition reducing stunting in children under 5 from 57 percent in 2001 to 36 percent in 2016 , with much of this success can be attributed to the ambitions and hard work of the Government of Nepal. However, the country still has a long way to go to achieve its SDG goals of reducing stunting in children to 15 percent by 2030 and we have already seen an appetite amongst companies and influencers to join us in our fight to achieve this common goal.

We hope that our innovative approach will eventually serve as a successful case study to be replicated in other geographies. However, our approach is tailored to the unique malnutrition situation in Nepal. Whilst aspects of this approach (such as encouraging private-sector innovation and working with consumer-packaged goods) are being used elsewhere, to build a self-sustaining movement against malnutrition we need everyone to play a part, particularly the private sector.

HOW IS THE BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION SUPPORTING BALIYO NEPAL?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued a grant to support the set-up and management of Baliyo Nepal. They continue to support our organisation by connecting Baliyo Nepal with other foundation investments in nutrition science, product development, consumer marketing and behaviour change. With this support, we hope that Baliyo Nepal can act as a pilot for other markets and be a game-changing example of how to harness the best of the private sector in the global fight against malnutrition.