Nutrition Rights Programme
India has the highest rates of childhood malnutrition in the world. The prevalence of underweight children in India is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa, with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth. 48 per cent of Indian children under the age of five have stunted growth, indicating that half of the children are chronically malnourished in India.
Many Indian states face widespread malnourishment despite high economic growth. The state of Maharashtra scored 22.8 on the State Hunger Index in 2008, which places it in the ‘alarming hunger’ category, at par with less economically developed states such as Odisha.
Despite global and national legal obligations to ensure food security (especially for children), approximately 60 million Indian children are underweight, more than half of all the women and girls are anaemic and around one-third of all adults are undernourished.
Since malnutrition in Indian states is rampant despite economic growth and global and national legal obligations, this paradoxical situation can only be addressed if the focus is shifted from the immediate causes of the problem to its underlying and fundamental causes. While food insecurity is the primary cause of malnutrition, the problem is further aggravated by high levels of exposure to infection and inappropriate infant and children feeding and caring practices.
This project is multi-dimensional in nature, spread over six geographically dispersed districts and cities to effectively address the complex problem of malnutrition. The programme was launched in six rural blocks in Maharashtra, covering at least 15 villages in each block. This includes two blocks each in the Pune and Amravati districts, and one block each from the Nandurbar and Gadchiroli districts. In addition, two clusters of slums in Mumbai and Nagpur urban areas with a population similar to a rural block were also involved.
Promoting CBM as an approach for accountability of health, nutrition and social servicesCommunity-Based Monitoring is a new approach to ensure accountability of social services. The effectiveness of this approach in improving health services has been demonstrated in the rural areas of certain districts of Maharashtra.
AdvocacyThe consortium involved in this project is working with the WCD department to create official spaces promoting the monitoring and accountability of nutrition-related services. This highlights key issues at the policy level with government officials related to the ICDS system. It is also addressing the gaps and deficiencies observed through community monitoring processes.
Critical Knowledge Generation and ResearchThe consortium involved in the knowledge generation and research activities of the programme is clarifying the dynamics of malnutrition in concrete contexts. It is also documenting positive practices and approaches that have proven to be effective in tackling malnutrition in a sustainable manner.
The Nutrition Rights Programme aims to promote a comprehensive, rights-based approach to address malnutrition in Maharashtra. Its objectives are:
- To promote community action towards making nutrition-related programmes (ICDS and Jijau Mission) accountable, responsive and effective in intervention areas
- To influence state level nutrition-related policies and programmes and make them community oriented and responsive to accountability processes
- To facilitate action, research and innovation in the approaches taken to improve nutrition at the community level and to develop a contextualised understanding of the dynamics of food security and nutrition
- To strengthen the discourse on Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) of social services to ensure social accountability of public services – particularly health care and nutrition
CBM is a new approach to ensure accountability of social services. The effectiveness of this approach in improving health services has been demonstrated in the rural areas of certain districts of Maharashtra.
The Project is being implemented by a consortium of civil society organizations based in Maharashtra. The project is coordinated by SATHI-CEHAT, Pune and implemented by Rachana Trust in Pune District, Amhi Amcha Arogya Sathi in Nagpur and Gadchiroli, Janarth Adivasi ViKas Sanstha in Nandurbar, Lok Seva Sangam in Mumbai and KHOJ in Melghat.
The project has demonstrated the feasibility and success of community based monitoring within the ICDS program through community mobilization and capacity building.