A national conclave would be held at Bhubaneswar on 15th and 16th of this month to work out strategies for properly nourishing tribal children who suffer from chronic under-nutrition. The conclave on Nourishing India’s Tribal Children: Voices of Frontliners, Good Practices and Policy Implications has been jointly organized by Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt.of India, Govt. of Odisha and UNICEF. Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri jual Oram and Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik will be attending the conclave besides large number of participants.
This conclave brings together frontline workers, practitioners, State and District officials from Departments of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare, representatives from the Tribal Research Institutes of various States as well as the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and UNICEF. Together they will take stock of the nutrition situation of India’s tribal children, discuss “what works and how” and how Departments of various States can coordinate, contribute and collaborate for reducing stunting in India’s tribal children.
The Conclave will chart a road map for these States for improving access to food, nutrition, health and sanitation services for children in tribal pockets and solidify all stakeholders’ commitment toward nourishing India’s tribal children. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana. The need to organise the conclave was felt in view of high level of chronic under nutrition or stunting which contributes to one-third of under-five child deaths.
The focus will be to collectively identify gaps and good practices and prepare a roadmap for improving access of tribal children to food, nutrition, health and sanitation that would improve their nutritional status. The participants would identify implementation challenges in the National Tribal Policy and ensure better utilization of Tribal Sub Plan budgets. Core areas of discussion would be household food and livelihood security, Integrated Child Development Services, health outreach and referral, drinking water and sanitation, plans and budgets for improving service delivery in tribal areas and engagement of civil society including academic institution for improving service uptake.
According to National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06), India has the highest number of stunted children globally and most of them are from tribal communities. The conclave would find ways to ensure that the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) becomes an effective and dynamic tool to mobilise resources for tribal children’s needs in food, nutrition and other developmental requirements. Participants would also discuss how to strengthen Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) for inter-sectoral coordination and monitoring of services in tribal areas.
Stunting (too short for one’s age) is an irreversible and chronic manifestation of under nutrition. It contributes to one-third of under-five deaths. Stunting adversely affects a child’s survival, health, development, learning capacity, school performance and his/her productivity in adulthood. According to NFHS-3 (2005-06), India houses the highest number of stunted children globally. Almost half of Indian children are stunted with the prevalence being highest among children belonging to scheduled tribes – India’s tribal people.
Stunting in tribal children, like that of all other children, is influenced by a multitude of factors including household food insecurity, maternal nutrition, poor feeding and care practices in the first two years of life and poor access to water, health and sanitation services. The central focus of this conclave is to emphasize how various government departments in various states can coordinate, contribute and collaborate for reducing stunting in India’s tribal children.
The main purpose of the seminar is to collectively identify gaps and good practices, and chart a road map for improving access to food, nutrition, and health and sanitation services for children in tribal pockets and solidify all stakeholders’ commitment toward tribal children’s development.
The seminar will have six thematic sessions on food and livelihood security; reach of integrated child development services; outreach and referral of health services; water and sanitation services; tribal budgets and plans; and role of development agencies. Each thematic session will be facilitated by a technical expert in the subject area. Around 150 delegates comprising experts, government officials, practitioners and field workers from various states would be attending the conclave.