A child at the malnutrition ward at the Community Health Centre in Baran District, Rajasthan.
A child at the malnutrition ward at the Community Health Centre in Baran District, Rajasthan. Sanjay Rawat/Outlook

New Programme To Address Malnutrition In Rajasthan

The multi-pronged programme will improve the nutritional quality of Take-Home Ration served to children, pregnant and lactating mothers

Prakash Kumar | Feb 01, 2021

To help combat malnutrition in Rajasthan, Cargil Inc in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Delhi-based Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) has launched a multi-pronged nutrition programme.

The programme, launched in Jaipur recently, aims to address nutrition intake in the first 1,000 days of a child's life starting at conception through two years after birth.

Under the programme, the nutritional quality of Take-Home Ration (THR) served to children, pregnant and lactating mothers will be improved in collaboration with the Anganwadi centers (AWCs). The programme will also deploy social behavior change communications to drive nutritional awareness and nutrition seeking behavior.

The programme , which is in sync with the Union government’s national nutrition strategy and the Poshan Abhiyan, will be implemented with support of the Rajasthan government’s department of women and child development.

“The need to address nutritional challenges through food systems remains critical globally. Nutrition has been a key focus for us. Cargill remains committed to contributing towards food and nutritional security by providing consumers and the community with the nutritious food they need to lead healthier lives. This programme resonates with Cargill’s purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” Cargill India president Simon George said.

Commenting on the partnership, He said he was positive that it will advance “replicable and demonstrable” models of public and private collaboration to improve nutrition levels amongst vulnerable communities.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) India Representative and Country Director Bishow Parajuli noted that the take-home rations distributed through the Integrated Child Development Centers (ICDS) to young children and pregnant/lactating women are a game-changer in India's quest to prevent malnutrition.

“But, it is also important to ensure nutritionally appropriate composition of the take-home rations, quality control, and effective production, creating demand through better packaging and uptake through social behaviour change communication,” he said, adding “WFP is honoured to collaborate with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Rajasthan, and Cargill for this project.”

Centre for Responsible Business CEO Rijit Sengupta said the project entails an innovative partnership, leveraging our collective experience to design a replicable pilot to address nutritional challenges in a district.

"In addition to strengthening state-level institutions and mechanisms, it highlights the need for community-driven business models and market linkages for achieving the objectives of the Poshan Abhiyan,” he added.

To improve nutritional awareness, the programme will work towards improving knowledge, attitudes, and practices in the community for preventing malnutrition among children, adolescent girls, and women through sensitization and awareness sessions. It will also drive social behavior change communication through mass media and advocacy campaigns to drive awareness amongst caregivers and families.

The programme will engage with the women self-help groups to produce nutritionally appropriate THR by setting up a standardized production unit run by trained women following quality and nutrition guidelines.