An adequate well-balanced diet is crucial for a family’s overall health and development. Well-nourished children are more likely to be healthy, productive, and have higher cognitive abilities. Undernutrition has the opposite effect, it stunts intellect, reduces productivity, and perpetuates poverty. Undernutrition is caused by the insufficient intake and/or inadequate absorption of energy, protein, or vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) that in turn lead to nutritional deficiencies in the body.
When it comes to our work around nutrition, we have been extending our technical support to JEEViKA in the state of Bihar since 2012. Since inception, our strategic objective for this nutrition led interventions has been to nurture SHG platforms run by women from the most marginalized communities. We leverage these platforms to educate women on the right nutrition and sanitation choices and practices.
We are among those pioneering institutions who have extensively leveraged the SHG platforms to accelerate states progress towards better nutrition outcomes. The project “Parivartan” implemented between 2011 to 2014 in Bihar had demonstrated improvement in nutrition outcomes through behaviour change interventions among women’s SHGs. It had proven SHGs as an opportune platform to promote better health and nutrition for rural and marginalized families. Since 2015, JEEViKA with technical support from PCI has integrated health, nutrition and sanitation (HNS) strategies within the existing JEEViKA framework as an effective approach towards addressing vulnerability reduction and thereby helping in the alleviation of rural poverty. It has employed a multi-pronged Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) strategy at scale across all blocks and districts of Bihar, to influence the existing knowledge, attitude and practices of rural women and their families to improve their HNS conditions. Building on the success of JTSP’s cost-effective, scalable HNS model, PCI is now supporting the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission and Tripura Rural Livelihood Mission to achieve sustainable improvements in Health and Nutrition (HN) outcomes.
A lot of our approaches and strategies for promoting nutrition is reflected in the guideline released by the Government of India around the Poshan Maah campaign celebration.
Our focus in nutrition is mainly on promotion of breastfeeding, complementary feeding with messaging on its consistency, frequency, quantity and diet diversity for all the age segments of household’s particularly pregnant & lactating mothers and children up to 2 years of age. The nutrition strategy also advocates promotion of nutria garden in order to ensure diverse food availability even in poor rural households.
The messaging explicitly tries to bring forth the relationship between sanitation and nutrition thereby stating how use of sanitary toilets and proper hand washing practices help in proper absorption of food thus augmenting the nutritional status.
With these strategic interventions, our further focus is on developing a scale-up strategy, state-level contextualization, policy and guideline refinement, and adequate funding for implementation of HNS interventions, development of processes, matrix, and systems for progress tracking, etc. across three focus states that is Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Overall, our nutrition hygiene and sanitation led technical expertise lies in system strengthening, demonstration, and scale-up. We provide techno-managerial support to help adapt these integrated learnings from the states and further scale up the hygiene and nutrition-related interventions.
Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) focusing on eliminating poverty contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition and complements the efforts of other government programs which address poverty as well as food and nutrition insecurities. SHGs and their federations, under the DAY-NRLM, provide an excellent opportunity to reach the unreached, marginalized, and disadvantaged families who often go missing from the government schemes, services and entitlements. The SHG platforms not only empower women to come out of the cycle of poverty but also provide an opportunity to equip them to demand their entitlements for various public services.
In response to the NITI Aayog’s call for better convergence between departments for improved community nutrition, DAY-NRLM moved towards integrating Food Nutrition Health and WASH (FNHW) as an essential component of its Dashasutra Strategy. The Dashasutra strategy outlines the ten good principles of democratic governance, transparent microfinance operations and social development under DAY-NRLM. The inclusion of FNHW in the Dashasutra was much needed and timely step in the country’s journey towards better community nutrition and health.
PCI is the sub-grantee of the Transforming Rural India Foundation (TRIF) in this project which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Technical Support to NRLM (TA-NRLM) project commenced in January 2020 looks at two broad outcomes – (I) system strengthening (II) demonstration and scale-up. This project is designed to provide techno-managerial support to help adapt the HN integration learnings from Bihar and UP and guide the NRLM in scaling up and prioritizing HN interventions. The project further focuses on developing scale-up strategy, state-level contextualization, policy and guideline refinement, and is also responsible for ensuring adequate funding for implementation of interventions, development of processes, matrix, and systems for progress tracking etc. Under the demonstration component, intensive support on HN integration will be provided to three focus states – Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
I – System Strengthening
The national FNHW technical assistance team supports the NRLM national office and select three states to strengthen the FNHW systems. The team also supports the State TA teams to plan, streamline and coordinate field level activities in 3 focused geographies.
II – Demonstration & scale-up
Working with the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), the TA-NRLM project has identified four blocks in each state (Jharkhand, Rajasthan and MP) to provide intensive support to those blocks. Geographies have been identified based on the readiness of the community institutions, poor FNHW indicators and the absence of any other development organizations.
Integration of Health and Nutrition interventions with women's self-help group...
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Based on our research and testing, we designed features and behavioural nudges that would enable men to adopt the desired behaviours for better household nutrition