Malnutrition is an ongoing disaster our country. And when a disaster hit us, the community needs to come together to abate it and take care of their peers. Hence, with malnutrition too, community must come together towards ending it by whatever small means they can. IGSSS’ is working with communities to tackle malnutrition in rural India.
Importance of Micronutrients:
Micronutrients, a very significant component of one’s metabolism and health, are not produced by the body naturally and hence needs external dietary considerations.
Every day, more than 6,000 children below the age of five die in India. More than half of these deaths are caused by malnutrition-mainly the lack of micronutrients like Vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc and folic acid. The consequences of micronutrient malnutrition are unacceptably high morbidity and mortality. 330,000 child deaths are precipitated every year in India due to vitamin A deficiency; 22,000 people, mainly pregnant women, die every year in India from severe Anemia; 6.6 million children are born mentally impaired every year in India due to iodine deficiency; intellectual capacity is reduced by 15 per cent across India due to iodine deficiency; and 200,000 babies are born every year with neural tube defects in India due to folic acid deficiency.
One of the ways through which malnutrition rates can be decreased in India can be ensuring proper and satisfactory intake of micronutrients. In rural India most people are unaware of the importance of minerals and vitamins and are usually mostly consuming carbohydrates.
There are various government of india sponsored schemes that make sure that children, women and adolescent girls are given guidance about the significance of micronutrients rich diet, and there are measures to track their progress as well. Many non government initiatives too have taken up the fight of malnutrition, especially under nutrition in rural areas.
Local Production of food:
One way of ensuring micronutrients intake is to assist the rural populace in growing their own food in small kitchen gardens and/or supply them with micronutrients rich food items. Locally grown food also helps in income growth and self sustainability of the rural population, and if coupled up with building resilience of the community towards climate change will help mitigate the loss of agricultural produce to climatic disasters and subsequently help in increased food availability.
IGSSS has been involved in initiatives that encourage local produce with a vision of mitigating malnutrition amongst children and women.
IGSSS has been introducing projects that build resilience of economically and socially marginalised communities in India to diversify their nutrition intake through sustainable agricultural practices. This was done by promoting kitchen gardens and adopting local agricultural knowledge and practices like millet and legume farming. Other initiatives which built resilience of farmers against natural disaster buy adoption climate resilient agriculture are also helping in providing diversifies food and micro nutrient rich food to the families.
“For farmers to be self-reliant and resilient in the context of climate change and malnutrition is very important. Every farmer should take steps towards conserving indigenous seeds and strive towards sustainable farming practices,” says Jayanti from Kansil village, Odisha who has been growing 23 different types of vegetables in her farm
It is believed that a bottom up approach for eradicating malnutrition is a better approach as it involves the target communities itself from the beginning of the process. As noted by many anganwadis that people in rural areas are not aware of the importance of micronutrient, hence with involvement of farmers and non farmer communities in villages, in growing nutritious crops, the question of malnutrition will be addressed at the grassroots level itself.