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For Immediate Release: April 29th, 2009
Contact: Kevin Donegan kdonegan@cesr.org

Child Malnourishment Increases, Access to Water Declines in Bangladesh

MADRID--Child malnourishment has increased in Bangladesh despite rising national income, a new analysis of economic and social rights in Bangladesh reveals. Meanwhile some serious gender inequalities persist: more girls are malnourished than boys.

The new analysis also found that child mortality rates in Bangladesh's urban areas and slums are the highest of any urban population in Asia. And access to improved water sources in urban areas declined between 1990 and 2006.

The analysis by the Madrid-based Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) examined recent indicators and trends in food, housing, and access to water, health and education. It comes as the Bangladeshi government is set to appear in May before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The fact sheet published by CESR assesses Bangladesh's economic and social rights outcomes in the light of the country's resources. The data it presents raises serious questions as to whether Bangladesh is doing all it can to realize these rights to the maximum extent of its available resources, as it is required to do under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties. While Bangladesh's GDP per capita continues to rise steadily, government spending on housing and community amenities, for example, as a percentage of GDP, is about half that of neighboring India and Nepal and falling.

This lack of investment has in some cases led to a deterioration in the enjoyment of a range of economic and social rights. In 2003, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that "stunting, wasting and severe malnutrition among both children and their mothers are extremely widespread."

The new fact sheet is part of CESR's Visualizing Rights series, which analyses statistical data from the perspective of a country's economic, social and cultural rights obligations, presenting it graphically so as to highlight potential areas of concern. This focus is intended to help intergovernmental human rights mechanisms, such as the UN, and national and international NGOs, monitor governments' compliance with their economic, social and cultural rights obligations.

We invite your comments and feedback, and encourage requests to make graphs, data and hard copy fact sheets available for NGO and other use. Please e-mail sstanton@cesr.org.

The Center for Economic and Social Rights works to promote social justice through human rights. In a world where poverty and inequality deprive entire communities of dignity, justice and sometimes life, we seek to uphold the universal right of every human being to education, food and water, health, housing, work and social security, and other economic, social and cultural rights essential to human dignity. It has offices in Madrid, New York and Geneva.