The project’s goal is to reduce the prevalence of underweight children under 5 years old and to reduce child mortality from malnutrition by strengthening communities and village-level government facilities’ capacity to identify, treat, and prevent malnutrition. This project aims to prove that a holistic, decentralized, community-based approach to malnutrition eradication will have better health outcomes, be more inclusive for children under 5, and will be more cost-effective in the long run than centralized approaches, especially for rural, marginalized tribal communities.
Since our Malnutrition Eradication Initiative began in 2010, this program directly impacted:
Survey data analyzed thus far:
Survey key findings:
This project empowers communities through health literacy and connects rural communities with the government health and nutrition services available. This project aims to prove that a holistic, decentralized, community-based approach to malnutrition eradication will have better health outcomes, be more inclusive for children under 5, and will be more cost-effective in the long-run than centralized approaches, especially for rural, marginalized tribal communities. Our team of up to 75 Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs) and 6 District Coordinators has covered enormous ground across 5 districts and 600 villages in Madhya Pradesh.
The story is from a village called Badgaon, which is situated in the Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh. It is a highly tribal village with a population of 4,114 inhabitants. The literacy rate is minimal, and residents’ livelihoods solely depend on agricultural work, which is seasonal.
In Badgaon, our local Community Nutrition Educator (CNE), Salita Dawar, works with great enthusiasm under the banner of Real Medicine and Nutrition Trust (RMNT) to find and treat malnourished children under 5 years of age. She screens children for malnutrition by measuring their Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC). Our bright and determined CNE also educates lactating mothers and pregnant women about nutritional requirements during pregnancy and breastfeeding, works with Anganwadi workers and ANM, and participates in all types of community meetings to raise health awareness.
During a routine survey in Badgaon, CNE Salita found several female residents discussing something among themselves: They were highly ashamed that they didn’t have a facility for safe or potable drinking water in their village. They had to walk up to 2 or 3 kilometers to fetch water. Our CNE encouraged the women to be confident, and added that they would have to take initiative and move forward to fix this problem.
Even after CNE Salita encouraged the women to take action, they were reluctant to pursue the subject further. She counseled them again and asked the women to take their problem to the Panchayat Sarpanch (the town council secretary). In case their problem wasn’t heard there, they could then raise the issue in Gram Sabha. Even if they failed to present their problem in Gram Sabha or it was not resolved there, they could approach the District Collector.
The local women formed their own team and approached the head of the village Panchayat, but he did not pay any attention to their problem. After several days, a program called “Gram diwas se Bharat diwas” was launched by the government, where citizens could present their social problems to officials. But unfortunately, the secretary of the Gram Panchayat would not allow the women to approach senior officials.
Once again, our CNE Salita Dawar stepped in and discussed the matter with the women. She found that they were disappointed, but had not lost hope. The women asked CNE Salita for advice, and she provided guidance by saying that they should draft a letter and present it to the grievance cell of the district.
They shared their problem with the District Collector, who issued an order to make a water supply connection in Badgaon. Our CNE Salita Dawar motivated the team of village women, and with perseverance, they were able to resolve their problem. The whole village is thankful for the role that CNE Salita Dawar played in the process.