- An estimated 40% of the World’s severely malnourished children under the age of 5 live in India, 49.5 % below age5 are severely or moderately underweight. 3 in every 4 children are anemic and 1 in 3 is stunted.
- At least half of Indian infant deaths are related to malnutrition, often associated with infectious diseases
- In the districts of West Bengal, 51.8% of the children below 2 years of age are malnourished. 22.09% of these children suffer from moderate to severe anemia. The fourth worst State with malnutrition status and anemia.
- The most damaging effects of under-nutrition occur during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. These damages irreversible.
- Malnutrition impedes motor, sensory, cognitive, inclusive social and economic development. Malnourished children are less likely to benefit from schooling, vulnerable to child exploitation and will consequently have lower income as adults.
Child malnutrition is rampant as:
- Access to nutrition remains a challenge due to poverty and habitus.
- Quality of supply and performance of nutrition are often inadequate. What the subalterns can afford or get is substandard.
- Inefficiency and Ineffectiveness: Institutional services are plagued by high overheads and often lopsided. Some equally critical services get less attention, e.g. government initiatives provide nutrition, but lack follow up and monitoring to ensure consumption and impact.
- Community Involvement: Development programs often treat communities as passive recipients. Their lack of involvement and ownership pose challenges to sustainability of programs whenever the institutions reduce attention and support.