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Less stunting but malnutrition remains in rural India

The last decade has seen stunting among children in rural India fall and access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation improve, according to a new report released by WFP and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). But calorie intake and chronic energy deficiency have remained stagnant, the report says.

The most serious problem has been an increase in the prevalence of anaemia, says the report, which was prepared by MSSRF and is a follow-up to the Food Insecurity Atlas of Rural India released in 2001. The new study -- the Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Rural India -- has a greater focus on nutritional outcomes and the factors which influence them.

“Nutrition security involving physical, economic and social access to balanced diet, clean drinking water, sanitation and primary health care for every child, woman and man is fundamental to giving all our citizens an opportunity for a healthy and productive life,” said Professor MS Swaminathan, Chairman, M S Swaminthan Research Foundation and Member of the Rajya Sabha.

The document is based on analysis of the data from the National Family Health Survey of 2005-2006 (NFHS-3), and the 61st round of the National Sample Survey and Census 2001.

“The report maps hunger and malnutrition hot spots in the country. It is an excellent tool for the government, policy makers and the civil society for identifying food and nutrition insecure areas that need specific interventions,” said Mihoko Tamamura, WFP Representative and Country Director for India. “It also suggests priority areas of action to help achieve the national and Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition,” she added.

In order to delve deeper into the food delivery systems of the country, the report examines the effectiveness of some of the important food-based interventions like the Public Distribution System (PDS), the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), and recommends measures for improved performance. The larger challenges of climate change and global food price rise are also highlighted.

by S. C.
25 february 2009, World News > Asia

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