Hunger and Malnutrition

Malnutrition is such a vicious circle, which apart from affecting the pregnant mothers also starts engulfing the yet to be born children. Such children see the light of day with a pre-determined fate coupled with poverty and hunger. Thus, they are born with all round darkness surrounding them with no ray of hope of any improvement in their future life. Malnutrition adversely affects not only the proper physical development of a person but also restricts the mental development.

In the absence of any proper and nutritious food to the children, particularly at their infant age – up to first 5 years, the problems emanating from mal-nutrition starts creeping in, which affects the resistant power within the children and various diseases starts over-powering them which ultimately culminates into death.

According to the National Family Health Survey III highlighted the fact that during last eight years (1998-2006), the percent of malnourished children had increased by a serious five percent. Owing to dearth of nutritious food, health facilities and family food insecurity, the percent of malnutrition (underweight) increased from 54% to 60.3%. It’s not the end of the story. It also says that only 14% children under the age of 3 Years breastfed within one hour of Birth and 82.6% of Children between the age of 6-35 Months (the most critical period of life for mental and physical development) are anemic.

On the other hand on the basis of their own data, Government of Madhya Pradesh has been claiming that the ration of Under-Nourishment has come down to somewhere around 49% but field realities, (like Sheopur) do not support State claims.

Well realizing the fact that with continued malnutrition and state of hunger, a healthy and productive society, based on equality, cannot be developed and as such, the Government, in the year 1975, launched an Integrated Child Development Scheme. The sole purpose of the Scheme was to make the childhood a healthy one for transforming itself into a strong, healthy and all round physically fit younger generation. Under this wider perspective, the Aaganwari programme was initiated

The Integrated Child Development Scheme is the only scheme launched to eradicate malnutrition. It is being implemented through a widespread network of Aaganwaris and is expected to provide nutritious food, pre-school education, and health services to children, pregnant and lactating mothers. Although, apparently at ground level, the working performance of has been affected for multiple reasons, such as, insufficient number of Aaganwaris, lower remuneration to its workers, non-availability of swinging place for children less than 3 years of age, etc., but in wider perspective, lack of political will and lower priority in budgetary provisions, had its definitive impact over the non-effective functioning of Aaganwaris.