Fight against malnourishment

Ek4a4781 500X334One of the key areas in which Essar Energy has been engaged is to improve children’s nutrition levels and health, notably through the Shishu Mangalam project in Gujarat. The 2011 Global Hunger Index Report ranked India 15th whilst the World Bank estimates that India is ranked 2nd (after Bangladesh) in the world in terms of the number of children suffering from malnutrition. Child malnutrition has severe consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth.[
Gujarat has a particularly high proportion of malnourished children, with 44.7% of children underweight and 6.1% of children who die under the age of five do so from hunger. According to the National Family Health Survey III, 2005-06, every second child under three years of age is underweight, and every second adolescent girl is anaemic.

Given this situation, the Essar Foundation, in collaboration with the District Panchayat, Jamnagar, started the Shishu Mangalam project between June and December 2012 in Khambhaliya block, one of the of the ten Taluka (administrative divisions) of the district of Jamnagar. This block has the highest percentage of malnutrition (38%) among children under the age of 5 years. The project strategy was to leverage the existing Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) structure and to focus exclusively on raising the health and nutritional level of malnourished children below six years old thereby reducing the number of children falling into the highly malnourished category.

A physical assessment was conducted to identify and grade the nutritional status of children.  Health check-ups of children in yellow zones were carried out by the medical officers of the primary health centre and those in red zones were carried out by paediatricians. Medical causes were identified and basic treatment as well as referral was ensured.   Additionally, a high protein nutrition supplement was provided along with nutrition education and individual tracking of weight gain was carried out through a separate monitoring mechanism.

Post completion of the project, a third party assessment was completed to study the impact and the results showed significant improvement in the nutritional status of children (see table on following page)

Table: Showing changes in severely undernourished children covered by the Shishu Mangalam project

 June 2012November 2012
Age Severely undernourished children Severely undernourished children Moderately undernourished children Healthy children  
  Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Total
6-12 months 94 67 161 22 14 36 34 19 53 26 22 48 137
1-3 years 228 242 470 79 99 178 88 89 177 36 33 69 424
3-6 years 192 199 391 63 73 136 71 72 143 21 15 36 315
Total 192 508 1,022 164 186 350 193 180 373 83 70 153 876

(Source: Calculations Based on the data compiled by the ICDS from the Shishu Mangalam Health Card)

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