Better nutrition for Banswara children

By Mohammed IqbalonSep. 01, 2021in Food and Water

Poshan Swaraj Abhiyan initiative covers 750 tribal-dominated Rajasthan villages

Children and adolescents in 750 villages of the tribal-dominated Banswara district in Rajasthan have started receiving nutritious food as part of the Poshan Swaraj Abhiyan to strengthen their health status ahead of an impending third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign seeks to protect the most vulnerable among undernourished children.

Banswara-based Vaagdhara, which works on tribal livelihood issues, has taken up the drive in collaboration with the district administration and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). About 67,000 children residing in five panchayat samiti areas of the district were screened at the start of the drive last week.

Identified children were being provided nutritious food cooked using local edible items at special nutrition and counselling camps in an attempt to reduce malnutrition levels. Vaagdhara secretary Jayesh Joshi said on Friday that the camps were organised in a participatory learning mode with predefined and planned activities.

The campaign is at present operative in Ghatol, Anandpuri, Sajjangarh, Kushalgarh and Gangadtalai panchayat samitis of Banswara district. A topic is chosen every day for discussion with tribal women and children in the camps, followed by an activity related to hand washing, cooking or child feeding.

Mr. Joshi said children with moderate and severe malnutrition were identified through their weight and the measurement of mid-upper arm circumference. Thirteen children with severe illness along with undernourishment were referred to primary health centres, and two to malnutrition treatment centres at the district hospital.

“With the use of local food items such as small millets, vegetables, sprouted grains, ragi and til laddoos and sama kheer, we have found that families practising integrated farming and growing kitchen gardens at home have succeeded in maintaining a correct nutrition level for their children,” Mr. Joshi said. These children would give a tough fight to coronavirus in the third wave, he said.

Banswara Collector Ankit Kumar Singh said malnourished children were being tracked through a mobile app after their division into three categories. Anganwadi workers were regularly uploading information on the identified children and a decision on continuing the drive in a different form would be taken after an analysis of the results, he said.

The campaign, which has so far found 16,909 children to be undernourished, has laid emphasis on traditional food crops grown in the tribal-dominated regions, which could play an important role in the food and nutritional security of local communities. Tribals traditionally consume millets and uncultivated forest foods rich in nutrients.

First published by The Hindu on 27 Aug. 2021

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