Hunger and malnutrition is one of the biggest challenges facing India. Still marked by striking social and economic disparities, the country accounts for 25 per cent of the world's hungry, with children and women being the worst affected. Malnutrition marks the lives of around 43 per cent of Indian children under five years of age, while chronic anaemia among women is widespread and is one of the root causes for the high maternal mortality levels in the country. Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, which has been working in the field of social development for half a century, considers elimination of hunger as one of its major areas of intervention. It seeks to raise this concern in the public arena and encourage governments and local authorities to focus on the issue. In India and other South Asian countries, the Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and its partners have evolved a rights-based approach to achieving the food and nutritional security of the rural poor. Its Fight Hunger First Initiative, which began in 2011 in the five states of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka, focuses on mobilising the community to access rights and entitlements for specific government services, such as child nutrition, food supplies and primary education. This series, which captures local realities and tracks best practices, argues for the need to integrate nutrition in all governance and agricultural programmes.

India:
Malnourished Gond Tribals Enjoy The Goodness Of Fresh Produce
By Shuriah Niazi

Laxmi Bai Kudape, 23, a resident of Padarpani village in Nivas block of Madhya Pradesh’s tribal dominated Mandla district, used to constantly worry about making ends meet and feeding the family. Her husband, Devendra, a daily wage labourer, would often be without work and so she would have to forage around for food to make sure that at least her little one would not sleep hungry. Consequently, Laxmi was underweight and her child severely malnourished. Then in 2012, some local activists knocked on her door and changed her life forever. They gave her seeds to cultivate vegetables on the small patch of land just outside her home and told her about the ample nutritional benefits of consuming the fresh, seasonal produce. Unlike in the past, Laxmi has no dearth of choices today, as she gets down to preparing the family meal – there’s fenugreek (methi), spinach, capsicum, brinjal and tomato growing aplenty and the best part is that she doesn’t have to spend much to eat healthy. In 23 villages of Nivas block, home is to a highly impoverished Gond population, families are benefitting from this intervention that seeks to alleviate the state of malnutrition in the region by encouraging the tribal women to create and maintain flourishing kitchen gardens.


“My husband doesn’t always get work near our village. He has to travel to block headquarters two kilometres away and even then there is no surety of payable employment. Money is still very tight but at least I have sufficient produce to provide a wholesome meal.”

WFS REF NO: IND0209D          

India:
Zip, Zap, Zoom… Kusumlata Mobilises Tribals To Drive Out Malnutrition
By Shuriah Niazi

In the villages that dot Niwas tehsil in the tribal district of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, it's rare to spot a woman riding a two wheeler. Kusumlata Bhavedi, however, is an exceptional young tribal woman on a mission to fight the poverty and hunger. Overcoming the barriers of social convention as well as mobility - that does not permit women in the region to step out of home if not for working in the fields - Bhavedi today is busy spreading awareness on issues like health and nutrition, education, rights and government welfare schemes. She is a Gram Mitra, or friend of the village, who zips around on her scooty, day or night, reaching out to the community with information and solutions. It's been a couple of years since Gram Mitras like Bhavedi, a group of specially trained volunteers are working in 60 villages of Niwas and Bichiya tehsils to enhance livelihood opportunities and improve health indicators in the region under a unique food security initiative.


* "Women and young girls have become more aware about their health. Personally, too, I feel more confident of myself, as I am able to effect positive change into lives of people. It enables them to look forward to better life opportunities and a brighter future."

WFS REF NO: IND0112D          

India:
Parvati's Rice Boiler Is Her New Best Friend
By Saadia Azim

Parvati Devi, 45, of Madanpur village in Deoghar district, Jharkhand, is a happy woman these days and the reason for her smiles is a newly-acquired rice par boiler unit, which has allowed her to save more than 50 per cent of her yield that used to get destroyed when she'd heat the paddy to make par-boiled rice, popularly known as 'usna' in the region. For this mother-of-eight growing paddy on their two-acre farm was not difficult as she had been tilling land ever since she was a young girl. However, the nightmare began when, at the end of every Rabi season, she had to prepare the par-boiled rice for storage. Like her, most farmers lost a sizeable portion of their produce during the process. Now, of course, the ingenious rice par-boiler unit, introduced by the local farmers club as a part of unique food security initiative underway in the area, has assured them all of a steady supply of their favourite staple. In fact, the unit known as Devipur Usna can steam 1,800 kilos in a single batch easing the work of women like Parvati, Rina and others.


"A little innovation can make a huge difference. The post harvest process is very labourious particularly for woman who do most of the work during cultivation season. The rice par boiler ensures them some time off to be with their children or rest."

WFS REF NO: INDNA21D          

India:
A Model Farmer, Savitri Shows Off Her Special Skills
By Saadia Azim

SAVITRI DEVI FROM JHANJI VILLAGE IN Jharkhand's Deoghar district is a model farmer today. She has been able to successfully incorporate sustainable integrated farming systems (SIFT) techniques on her 60 decimals of farmland to produce bumper crops of maize, paddy, chickpea, millets and potatoes. However, till just three years back, she and her husband were struggling day and night to cultivate their land but all their hard work was to no good as crop failure was common. To feed their family of eight, Ghanshyam, Savitri's husband would have to migrate every few months to work as a labourer in nearby Deoghar town. What changed her fortunes was the creation of a farmers' club in the village under a unique food security initiative, where unskilled tillers like her were taught different ways to maximise their yields.


"These clubs have managed to bring disillusioned farmers back to their fields. They have given up the idea of migrating and instead want to train their energies on becoming successful cultivators."

WFS REF NO: INDNA13D          

India:
These Dalit Women Know What's Rightfully Theirs
By Shuriah Niazi

Here's how an anganwadi centre has been officially described: 'It's a village centre that provides basic health care, nutrition education and supplementation, and also conducts pre-school activities'. In other words, it is the epicentre of mother and child care at the grassroots. What if, instead of one, there were two such centres in a village? Seems like a good thing, doesn't it. But the Dalit women of Chaubara Jagir village in Sonkatch block of Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh, would beg to differ. In their remote hamlet there's one anganwadi for the upper castes and another for them, although it's nothing more than a broken shanty where their children are not just exposed to the elements but are also not even given the promised food and nutrition supplements. Frustrated with their situation, earlier this year, 25 Dalit women, led by Reena Raikwar, took matters into their own hands and approached the sub-divisional magistrate for help. Today, they are supervising the construction of a new centre. Raikawar and others attribute the success of their endeavour to a local NGO that has opened up resource centres across Dewas where tribals and other marginalised communities can access essential information regarding their rights and


'We have realised that we have a right to basic services. Earlier, we felt powerless, but not anymore. We know government procedures now and have learnt how to draft applications.'

WFS REF NO: INDN923D          

India:
Free Legal Aid Helps Dalit Women Fight Crime And Exclusion
By Shuriah Niazi

Earlier this year, in a small village in Chhindwara district, Madhya Pradesh, a hearing- and speech-impaired minor Dalit girl was brutally gang raped. When the victim's mother, a daily wager, mustered up the courage to go to the police she was turned away as the authorities were ‘unable to understand’ what the child wanted to convey. Disappointed, she simply resigned to fate - till someone told her about a toll-free helpline she could call to register her complaint. When she called in and explained the situation, a team of legal experts from the Forum for Social and Economic Rights, a group of advocates that fights cases on behalf of victims of rape and other crimes, instantly came to her assistance. It took a month – and meetings with the State Women's Commission and Director General of Police – but an FIR was lodged with the promise of a fair investigation. Like this disabled minor, the Forum has been able to ensure justice for several voiceless girls and women with support from a unique initiative being implemented in the region.


‘We work to protect the Dalits and others who suffer social discrimination. Most of the lawyers associated with the Forum, too, hail from the weaker sections of the society. So they have natural empathy for victims whom they represent.’

WFS REF NO: INDN901D          

India:
Bengal’s Women Learn To Extract Good Food From Dry Land
By Ajitha Menon

Across 14 villages of Bankura district and six villages of Birbhum district in West Bengal, 800 families are learning to farm dry land anew in a sustainable manner to ensure increased income, less market dependency and food security. This ongoing initiative encourages integrated eco-system based farming on both individual and common land, reduces input costs through recycling of waste material like dung from poultry and cattle to create vermi-compost and bio gas, and seeks to expand the food basket keeping in mind the requirements of the community. Over the last two-and-a-half years, this unique community-based project has been chalking out long- and short-term ways - like the cultivation of crops that require minimum water and have multi-purpose uses or the plantation of fruit trees - to strengthen the nutritional requirements of the families in a sustainable manner.


‘We women are paid a maximum of Rs 60 rupees a day while the men earn around Rs 200 for agricultural labour. Women are basically conditioned to believe that their contribution in most spheres is of lesser value than that of men.’

WFS REF NO: INDN819D          

India:
Teaching Bidar’s Women To Ditch Patriarchy, Embrace Empowerment
By Pushpa Achanta

Women are central to food security and, consequently, the welfare of not just their family but the larger community as well. This is because of the multiple roles they play in the entire process of bringing food from farm to mouth, being producers, procurers and providers. Naturally then, it’s critical that they remain healthy, happy and empowered. That’s why in the dry and deprived district of Bidar in north Karnataka, across several villages of Aurad taluk, thousands of women are being encouraged to demand their rights, especially those related to land, livelihood and reproductive health. Under a unique initiative, local women like Eswara, Chennamma, Tulsiamma and others are learning to value their contribution to society, question social rules that sideline them, and stand up for their entitlements. Of course, they have a long struggle ahead of them as they face stiff resistance from a conservative, patriarchal system.


‘We women are paid a maximum of Rs 60 rupees a day while the men earn around Rs 200 for agricultural labour. Women are basically conditioned to believe that their contribution in most spheres is of lesser value than that of men.’

WFS REF NO: INDN814D          

India:
Lifting The Curse of Child Malnutrition From Bidar
By Pushpa Achanta

In 2000, countries around the world pledged to fulfill the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight time-bound targets to eradicate poverty and hunger and uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity. India, which is ranked 63 out of 81 countries on the Global Hunger Index, has been working towards finding workable solutions to a problem that especially affects children between 0 to 5 years. In the parched northern Karnataka district of Bidar, a community initiative to address child malnutrition in Aurad taluk is creating a roadmap for change. Through a slew of interventions, ranging from nutrition awareness drives to developing kitchen gardens and involving local farmers’ collectives to cultivate millets, cereals and other relevant foods, a marked transformation in the health indicators has been achieved. Of the 96 children that were identified as SAM (Severe and Acute Malnourished) in July 2013, 61 have become normal while 589 of the 641 moderately malnourished children have regained their physical wellbeing.


Gram Panchayats, Village Health Sanitation Committees (VHSC), School Development Management Committees (SDMC), Self-Help Groups and farmers’ collectives have joined hands to deal with the problem of malnutrition rampant in the region.

WFS REF NO: INDN721D          

India:
Tribal Women Guard Their Forest To Ensure Food Security
By Sarada Lahangir

The Ghodasal Dongar (hill) is lush with mango, jackfruit, guava, tamarind and sal trees that help sustain the 36 tribal families living in the nearby hamlet of Pathargarh in the Bisam Cuttak block of Rayagada district in Odisha. Every day women like Ratani Jakesika, 35, make their way to the ‘dongar’ to collect edible greens, fruits tubers and roots that supply the requited nutrition for the proper development of their children. In the absence of suitable livelihood opportunities, especially in during the rains, it is this forest that saves the community from hunger. Naturally then the women are protective of this life-saving green cover. So much so that when in April 2013, the forest department proposed to undertake mass plantation of commercial varieties like teak and eucalyptus, the villagers strongly opposed the move forcing the department to plant more fruit trees instead. Today, inspired by Pathargarh’s women and supported by a local non government organisation that has been spreading awareness on the issue of forest protection for food security, around 120 tribal women across 60 villages have taken to forest conservation in their area.


“The forest is protecting my children from starvation. So is it not my duty to protect it from extinction?”

WFS REF NO: INDN710D          

India:
Meet The Trio That Guides Women To Better Health
By Pushpa Achanta

In Aurad taluk of Bidar, the northernmost district in Karnataka, three women have emerged as the guardian angels of expectant and lactating mothers as well as children between 0-5 years in the area. Suzanna, Ashalatha and Yogita are trained health and nutrition counsellors, and each one is in charge of the well-being of women and children in 10 villages in the taluk. Even as they undertake home visits and encourage women to go to the anganwadi centre for their quota of supplements and ration dispensed free under the Integrated Child Development Services, they also conduct activities that promote healthy eating and hygienic personal habits among students in the local government schools. Of course, it was not as if this trio did not face their share of challenges – just a couple of years back Suzanna was suffering from severe anaemia, while Ashalatha and Yogita were struggling to provide two nutritious meals a day to their impoverished families. But times have changed for the better now, thanks to a special fight hunger initiative underway in the region.


“When I had met Ashalatha some months ago, I was severely anaemic. She gave me certain dietary suggestions to help counter my problem. I might not have had a healthy baby today if not for the timely intervention of Ashalatha.”

WFS REF NO: INDN616D          

India:
Dalit Women Ensure Mid Day Meals For Children
By Shuriah Niazi

When children go hungry or fall ill it's their mothers who feel the pain. So when dalit women of Mundalana village in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh were informed that their children would no longer be given the customary mid day meal at their school, they could not take it lying down. Although dalits in this region are oppressed and extremely poor, this news compelled them to take matters into their own hands. With the support of a local non government organisation they set up the Dalit Vanchit Vikas Manch to enable the community to stand up for their rights. Besides improving access to government schemes, the women in the Manch were determined to revive the programme that assures one nutritious meal a day for impoverished children. For this they first approached the sarpanch and later went right up to the state Department of Women and Child Development with their demand. Today, the mid day meal scheme is back on track and a women's Self Help Group, set up under the aegis of the Manch, is serving up healthy meals.


‘We have learnt to demand our rights. We go to the Gram Sabha regularly now. In fact, we had first raised the issue of mid day meals there. A self-help group was formed to supply meals for the kids.’

WFS REF NO: INDN603D          

India:
Food Fairs To End Child Malnutrition
By Shuriah Niazi

Maya, 22, of Chaubara Jagir village in Sonkatch block of Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh, had no concept of malnutrition. All she knew was that her 13-month-old baby girl, Bhumika, was underweight and that she was falling ill quite frequently. When that happened, on the advice of the elders at home, she would take her to a village medicine man, who was actually a quack. Then early last year, she visited a nutrition fair held in her village, which proved to be a real eye-opener for the young mother. Not only did she realise that her child was suffering from severe malnourishment, she also learnt that there were certain crucial steps she could take to ensure that Bhumika regained her health. Armed with the right information Maya has been able to change the fate of her daughter. Unlike most Dalit children in Chaubara Jagir, she is an active toddler now. Abject poverty, illiteracy and a low social status have contributed to the high number of malnourished children among the Dalits of Dewas. But a focused Fight Hunger First Initiative being implemented in the district is helping to change this reality through regular nutrition fairs.


Around 43 severely malnourished children from Chaubara Jagir were taken to the government-run Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) where special medical care was provided to them. From no other village in the state was severe malnourishment detected in so many children.

WFS REF NO: INDN521D          

India:
Using Pictures And Slogans To Wipe Out Hunger
By Ajitha Menon

There is an information revolution taking place in Chhatna block of Bankura district, West Bengal. Rural girls and women are eagerly coming forward to learn simple ways to tackle the critical issue of hunger and malnutrition that afflicts their region. Under a special ‘fight hunger’ initiative, being implemented by a local non government organisation, attractive, easy-to-understand messages in Bengali related to nutrition, pre and post natal care, malnutrition in children and healthy food habits are being conveyed to the community through pictures, diagrams, graphs and charts. In addition, posters providing information on locally available foods and the importance of hygiene, as well as literature on sanitation, breast feeding sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation have been prepared for their benefit. Today, youth groups, grassroots workers and other volunteers in 60 villages are creating awareness and transforming lives in this sleepy countryside.


The success of the pictorial cards has been so phenomenal that even the district health and ICDS departments are contemplating using them to train their staff.

WFS REF NO: INDN512D          

India:
Youth Clubs Fight Hunger
By Ajitha Menon

Kshama Mondal, 19, of Hosibad village, under Jhunjkagram panchayat in Chhatna block of Bankura district, West Bengal, enjoys learning new facts related to the food and nutrition and then putting them into practice. From being an active participant in the nutrition camps organised regularly in her village, Kshama has moved on to encouraging others. As a member of the Hosibad Naba Tarun Taruni Dal, a youth group in her village, she is involved in activities that create awareness on issues related to health, education and development. Like Kshama, youngsters in 32 villages of Ghoshergram and Jhunjkagram panchayats have formed groups - comprising 10-15 members - that have taken on the responsibility of monitoring Integrated Child Development Services and mid day meals, conducting nutrition workshops and checking on the implementation of the Right to Education Act as well as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Food security, education security and income security - that's their mantra and ultimate aim.


"Our group conducts workshops where we explain the nutritional value of different leaves, fruits, grains that are available in our area. For us young girls this is learning for when we become mothers."

WFS REF NO: INDN423D          

India:
Food Is An Election Issue, Say Deoghar's Women
By Saadia Azim

For tribal communities, the forest has traditionally been their habitat, their source of income and their nutritional lifeline. So protection of the green cover and ready access to forest foods are issues that are linked to their very survival. In India, while The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, formally recognises the rights of forest-dwellers over land and other resources from the jungle, in reality there is a constant tussle going on between these communities and forest officials. In a state like Madhya Pradesh, which is home to 46 recognised Scheduled Tribes, a woman sarpanch in Mandla district has led a local movement to conserve more than 100 hectares of forest land on a sacred hillock and secure ownership rights under the community's forest rights. Santa Bai, head of Kanharikala Panchayat, took up this cause to ensure that tribals, especially the dominant Baigas, who have traditionally supplemented their food requirements with produce from the forest, never sleep hungry in one India's most food insecure regions.


"Forests provide sustenance to us in the form of minor forest produce and water, as well as grazing grounds for our cattle. I championed reforestation and fought for people's rights to access the forest for their basic needs as our entire existence depends on this."

WFS REF NO: INDN408D          

India:
Sacred Forest To Fight Hunger: A Sarpanch's Big Idea
By Shuriah Niazi

For tribal communities, the forest has traditionally been their habitat, their source of income and their nutritional lifeline. So protection of the green cover and ready access to forest foods are issues that are linked to their very survival. In India, while The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, formally recognises the rights of forest-dwellers over land and other resources from the jungle, in reality there is a constant tussle going on between these communities and forest officials. In a state like Madhya Pradesh, which is home to 46 recognised Scheduled Tribes, a woman sarpanch in Mandla district has led a local movement to conserve more than 100 hectares of forest land on a sacred hillock and secure ownership rights under the community's forest rights. Santa Bai, head of Kanharikala Panchayat, took up this cause to ensure that tribals, especially the dominant Baigas, who have traditionally supplemented their food requirements with produce from the forest, never sleep hungry in one India's most food insecure regions.


"Forests provide sustenance to us in the form of minor forest produce and water, as well as grazing grounds for our cattle. I championed reforestation and fought for people's rights to access the forest for their basic needs as our entire existence depends on this."

WFS REF NO: INDN318D          

India:
Children Grade Their Mid Day Meal
By Ajitha Menon

Conventionally, it is the teachers who mark children on their performance at school. But what happens when a school, its teachers, and facilities like mid-day meals, toilets and playgrounds, get graded by children and their parents? Visit 16 villages across Purulia district in West Bengal to witness how community activism, powered by women and children, is changing the way initiatives under the government‘s Integrated Community Development Scheme (ICDS) and Right to Education are being implemented to benefit the community for a change. Every month, on a scale of one to ten, students, parents and even teachers rate the school infrastructure and services like condition of building, toilets, drinking water and mid-day meals, as well as the attendance and functioning of teachers. A colourful chart paper scorecard is prepared and open discussions are held to figure out ways to improve performance. Today, Ormad Lakhipur Primary School is getting ready to build its first girls‘ toilet besides providing better mid day meals, while Karumama‘s primary school building has finally been renovated.


‘The children rated the mid day meals at a low 2-3. I realise that eating ‘khichidi‘ (gruel of rice and lentils) every day may not be appealing and that children may want variations like rice with vegetable or soyabean. Even mothers have given a poor one-on-ten to the place where the food is cooked'.

WFS REF NO: INDN225D          

India:
In Jharkhand, Holding Up The Tricolour In A Meal
By Saadia Azim

It was the same old fare that Parmila Hembram, 22, a resident of Siri village in Deoghar district, Jharkhand, used to dish out for every meal - rice, potatoes and, sometimes, dal. Not that she could not occasionally include wild greens or pumpkin, which grew in the vicinity of her home, but these had never been a part of her family's traditional eating pattern. What she did not know was that such sustained imbalanced intake was effectively making her family vulnerable to illnesses and putting her four-year-old son, Pramod, at risk of malnutrition. That consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet was contributing to severe malnutrition and anaemia in the district was confirmed when a local non-government organisation involved in improving food security conducted an extensive hunger mapping survey in her area. Once the problem was identified a simple solution was worked out. Introduction of the 'tiranga bhojan', or tricolour meal, approach changed Parmila's life: not only did she start feeding her family a balanced meal - yellow lentils, white rice and milk and green veggies - she also began cultivating a small garden to supplement her daily wager husband's meagre income.


"When we conducted a study on nutrition security in rural Jharkhand what came to our notice was that people just liked to eat rice and potato. And their idea of 'proper food' was the quantity consumed and not the quality."

WFS REF NO: INDN210D          

India:
Tribal Women Fight Hunger The Do-It-Yourself Way
By Sarada Lahangir

In Mundipadar village of Bisam-Cuttack block in Odisha's Rayagada district, Runi, 20, gave birth to a low weight baby boy at home. At 1.2 kg, the child was in a critical state but when advised to seek treatment at the local health centre, Runi's husband refused to listen. That's when Draupadi Pidikaka stepped in. She told the couple about how their one wrong decision could cost them their son's life. When they informed her that they couldn't afford hospitalisation, she reassured them that they would not have to spend much to reach the government health centre where services were free. Draupadi and her associates pitched in with some money and one woman from among them accompanied Runi to the Primary Health Centre, while others arranged for the ASHA to be present when she arrived. Today, Runi's son weighs 2.6 kg and has got a new lease of life. Who were these women that came to this poor family's rescue? They are members of a special group formed to tackle hunger and health issues in the village. Similar groups across 46 villages in Rayagada are keeping an eye on the well being of their community even as they tackle hunger by ensuring the smooth running of ration shops.


"I have learnt many things about motherhood and newborn care like thermal protection, early breast feeding and proper food habits from the meetings of the women's group. Today, I know all about thermal protection for newborns and pass on my knowledge to other women."

WFS REF NO: INDN127D          

India:
Teen Girls Tend Kitchen Gardens, Make Healthy Mid Day Meals
By Saadia Azim

When school teachers in the Madanpur village of Devipur block in Deogarh district of Jharkhand went on a two month strike in late 2012, a group of girls, encouraged by a local non government organisation, formed the ‘Jyoti Yuvati Club’. But what started as an attempt to manage the day-to-day functioning of the Madanpur Primary School has now turned into a long drawn mission against hunger, with members of the group not only cooking mid day meals for the students, but also developing kitchen gardens. The model has been adopted by 20 other schools in three panchayats of Devipur in an effort to deal with the persistent problem of malnutrition in a district where more than 50 per cent children are stunted while every second child is underweight.


“Younger students came only when they knew they were going to get food to eat. So to keep the students engaged and also provide them with food, we started sowing vegetables in the land lying unused in the school.”

WFS REF NO: INDN113D          

India:
A Fibre Sheet Roof To Boost Nutrition, Bengal's Women Show You How
By Ajitha Menon

A one-and-a-half feet by two feet transparent fibre sheet has completely revolutionised Kokila Mahato's way of life: it has enabled the 58-year-old from Pandra village in Jhalda Block II of Purulia district, West Bengal, to finally prepare hygienic, nutritious and well-cooked meals for her family. Quite remarkably, the use of a simple fibre sheet has not just brought sunshine into the otherwise dingy kitchens of homes in Jhalda II block - earlier most women did their entire cooking in semi-darkness, often by the light of the 'dibri', a tiny kerosene lamp - it has also emerged as a cost effective means of ensuring that families eat healthy and, in the process, enjoy greater well-being. Kokila is happy that she can see what she is cooking and no longer has to rely on instinct while cleaning the veggies or adding spices. Like her, several all-women self help groups across 16 villages of Majihidih gram panchayat have benefitted from this innovative intervention that is boosting the nutritional status of rural communities.


"I remember when sunlight had first filtered into my kitchen through the fibre sheet I was shocked to see the number of flies, ants and mosquitoes that were flitting or crawling around my kitchen and near the food, on the food and in the food."

WFS REF NO: INDMC23D          

India:
Tribal Women Discover The Goodness Of Forest Foods
By Sarada Lahangir

Ruke Pushika, 55, a tribal woman from Rayagada district in Odisha, goes into the forest daily to gather edible greens, fruits and tubers for her daughter, Tule, who is pregnant. For a landless widow like Ruke, these 'uncultivated foods' are a real godsend - they cost her nothing and yet she is confident that she is providing the right nutrition not just to her daughter but to the other members of her family as well. Both Ruke and Tule are well aware of the nutrients, proteins and vitamins they derive from the forest produce they now consume regularly. Of course, there was a time when tribal women like them, across the food insecure Muniguda and Bisam Cuttack blocks of Rayagada, would only turn to the forest during times of crisis. But thanks to an innovative intervention that has taught them all about the nutritional value of forest foods, today they are including them in their daily meals, which is helping them free their children of the curse of malnutrition.


"I am not only giving the leaves, fruits and millets I collect from the forest to my daughter but also telling other expectant mothers in the village to consume these regularly to ensure a healthy delivery. They cost nothing and are very useful for us."

WFS REF NO: INDMC17D          

India:
In Sunderbans, Colour Coding Kids To Fight Malnutrition
By Ajitha Menon

Today, women across 32 villages in Joynagar II block of the Sunderbans in West Bengal are trying to usher in a different kind of 'green' revolution. They are adopting innovative cooking techniques and engaging with their local government health workers to fight the severe malnutrition afflicting their children. Red, yellow and green is the colour-identity given to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, moderate acute malnutrition and those who are healthy, under the Fight Hunger First Initiative (FHFI) being implemented in the region. But even though today most families in villages like Purva Raghunathpur and Gopalnagar have 'red' children, mothers like Mabuda, 26, Azmira, 27, and Murshida, 22, are growing fresh vegetables, cooking colourful food for their kids, and taking them regularly to the ICDS centres to ensure that they become 'green'.


Says Murshida, "My boys used to not eat anything other than mashed potatoes and rice. Now I add different vegetables and leafy greens to their rice - it adds nutrition and they can't resist the colourful food. I also insist that we all wash our hands before eating."

WFS REF NO: INDMC09D          






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