Saba Mebrahtu, chief of the nutrition section at UNICEF-Nepal, says the immediate causes include poor nutrient intake, particularly early in life.
Fifty percent of stunting happens during pregnancy and the rest after infants are born.
"When we are talking about nutrient-rich food […] we are talking about ensuring that children get enough of it even before they are born," says Mebrahtu
The time between conception and a child's second birthday is a crucial period, she
said, one of rapid growth and cognitive development.
"That is because the nutrients children are using for development are used instead to fight against infection," says Mebrahtu
emphasising the need for simple practices such as proper hand washing and cleaning of utensils.
If children are suffering from infection due to poor hygiene and sanitation they can have up to six diarrhoeal episodes per year, she
warns, adding that while "children recover from these infections, they don't come back to what they were before."