OdishaPlus Bureau

State targets zero-malnutrition by 2036

Odisha is still reeling under malnutrition, notwithstanding the political will to deliver and transform. Malnutrition is critical and perpetual in tribal communities, who constitutes 22.58 percent of State’s population, said Basanta Kumar Kar, Chief Advisor-cum-Mentor, Coalition of Food and Nutrition Security (CFNS).

Speaking at a webinar titled ‘Tribal Nutrition to Supercharge Odisha’s Demographic Dividend’, Kar said Odisha’s nutrition strategy is in sync with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and World Health Assembly targets. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) documents a 20 percent rise in complementary feeding rate in Odisha between the years 2015-16 and 2019-21.

At the same time, the survey finds a high of around 42.1% of the under-5 tribal children are stunted; 22.8% wasted; and 72.9% anaemic. The rate is higher than the malnutrition rate prevailing among the general population in the State.  The stunting rate in general population is 31 percent, wasting rate is 18.1 percent and 64.2 percent are anemic.

“Regarding malnutrition in women, the prevalence of anaemia among tribal and general category is 71.7 percent and 64.3 percent, respectively,” informed Kar

Underlining the need for a multi-stakeholder partnership to not only narrow the difference but end malnutrition, Jagadananda, Mentor and Co-Founder of CYSD, emphasised  on the need for  the stakeholders to formulate robust planning and its execution to banish malnutrition by 2036 – the year of Odisha’s centenary celebration.

He hailed the institutional arrangements like State Food Commission, Agriculture Cabinet, Millet Mission and a separate Nutrition Budget to address the crisis. He, however, cautioned on the need of planning and monitoring at the community level.

Ranglal Jamuda, Board Secretary CFNS, spoke about the need to realize Community Forest Rights and Community Forest Resources Rights under the Forest Rights Act to ensure nutrition security of the tribal communities.

“Tribes share a symbiotic relationship with the forests, their home. Lack of tribal ownership over their forests, on which they have been depending on for generations, and, thereby, conserving it for sustainable use, leads to loss of forest cover, loss of their forest-based livelihood and vanishing of forest food. All these take a toll on their food security,” underlined  Jamuda, who was the first chairperson of Odisha State Food Commission.

He hailed the Odisha Millet Mission. “This can play a very important role in regaining not only calorie but micronutrient and protein. But for that the government needs to initiate measures to ensure local consumption of millets. This apart, there should be provisions for primary millet processing units and value addition,” he further said.

Pramod Kumar Merkap, Chairperson, Odisha State Food Commission, highlighted that in order to achieve nutritional security of the tribes, the planning should be micro-level and need based. He underlined the need for proper implementation of Van DhanYojana that aims at value addition of minor forest produce (MFP) and development of MFP value chain.

“It is an important tool to improve the tribal income and thus can ensure nutritional security,” he added.

Merkap further maintained that the campaigns like ‘Anaemia Mukta Laqshya Abhiyan’ (Amlan), which combine national and global best practices in reducing anaemia can go a long way in ensuring nutritional security in tribal areas.

Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist, Unicef-Odisha, gave an insight into the status of wasting in tribals. He underscored the need of timely detection and enrolment of Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM) children into Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme.

Various experts have put forth their vison and plans at the webinar jointly organised by Bhubaneswar-based non-profit Centre for Youth and Social Development (CFNS) and Odisha Development Initiative to mark the Poshan Maah (September 1-30) or the nutrition month. It aims at providing a platform to work together with the government for a malnutrition-free Odisha.

Sneha Mishra, Secretary, Aaina, a city-based NGO, delivered the welcome address and Dr Mukesh Sahoo proposed the vote of thanks.

Among others, senior policy makers, political leaders, bureaucrats and development practitioners attended the webinar.

Tags: #TribalMalnutrition #NutritionSpecialist #UnicefOdisha #AnaemiaMuktaLaqshyaAbhiyan #malnutritionfree #FoodCommission #PoshanMaah #nutritionmonth #micronutrient #CommunityForestRights #MilletMission2023