Skip to main content

Tribal malnutrition crisis haunts Maharashtra( thehindu)

State’s claims belied by data showing 40 per cent of malnourished children in seven regions

Maharashtra faces the ‘stark reality’ of malnutrition among children in tribal areas, according to the State government’s own report.

The official study reveals that in seven tribal belts, over 40 per cent of children are affected by some form of malnutrition. In comparison, in the best performing block, Harsul in Nasik, 27.3 per cent suffer from malnutrition, down from 42.3 per cent in 2012.

Just 24 hours before the report was presented, in reply to a ‘calling attention’ motion moved on Thursday by 86 MLAs in the Assembly — citing around 8,000 child deaths due to malnutrition between April and August 2016 — the State had claimed that its preventive approach on malnutrition is working.

The report, titled Malnutrition Status in Tribal Belts, highlights shortcomings such as supply of grains infested with insects, worms and other contaminants to meal schemes, and children getting neither entitlements under the Public Distribution System (PDS), nor sufficient calories under the Supplementary Nutrition (SN) and Take-Home Ration (THR) schemes. Also, the report says, other contributing factors are poor health care facilities and constant migration. The report was prepared by the Rest of Maharashtra Legislative Development Board, and presented last week to Governor C.V. Rao. The Hinduhas a copy.

Senior officials told The Hindu the caloric requirement provided under both the SN and THR was questionable. “In one such visit to a THR production unit, it was found care was not taken to clean grains before milling. Insects, small stones and unwanted material were found in the grains,” the report says.

The team found that food scarcity did not seem to be a contributing factor as much as poorly balanced diets. Except for carbohydrates and proteins, other food groups – milk and dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and fats and sugars – were missing from the diet. The Rs. 5.92 per child provision under the SN scheme was ‘insufficient.’

THR food given to children was ‘bitter / smelly / salty / raw / coarse’. Even that was not given to deserving beneficiaries. Some ration was fed to livestock.

Systemic faults

In Nandurbar, PDS was irregular, delivered with two-month gaps, and “the quota was not as per entitlement.” Grain was of poor quality, and often sugar and kerosene were not delivered at all. In addition, the recipients were overcharged. “Twenty per cent of families did not have ration cards,” and many had to walk several kilometres to get their quota.

Of the self-help groups (SHGs) surveyed, 63 SHGs received grains only once every three months during the five-month survey period (Jan 2016 to May 2016). In 44 Anganwadis Centres (AWCs), the team found either snacks were not served with meals or of ‘poor quality and quantity.’ Also, 47 AWCs did not have toilets or had toilets in unusable condition.

A silver lining

One area did show signs of improvement: health.

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of health centres, regular counselling, increased awareness of pre-natal and ante-natal care, breast-feeding norms being followed, and immunisation schemes implemented. Kakarpati and Mungabri blocks, the worst-performing regions on other parameters – 1.24 on AWC, 1.39 on THR, 1.50 on PDS, 1.67 on nutrition – scored a greatly improved health score of 2.63.

Milind Thatte, member, Tribal Advisory Council of the Maharashtra Government, says, “This report proves government is not facing up to the real problems to tackle tribal malnutrition; it is just looking to reduce the annual death count by trying to force feed tribal children artificial food under THR/SN schemes..”


Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…