Published On: Sun, Aug 21st, 2016

Seminar on Malnutrition and its Impact on Odisha’s Children held in New Delhi

14088542_10154507525107472_9117172720723857546_nNew Delhi: Odisha Forum has been engaged in deliberating various issues related to development of Odisha. On 18th August 2016, the Forum took up a vital issue, “Malnutrition and its Impact on Odisha’s Children” to deliberate upon. The meeting was held in Lecture Hall No 1, IIC Annexe, New Delhi at 5.30 PM. In the beginning of the meeting, the President of the Forum Mr.Gokul Patnaik, IAS (Retd.) very rightly said that the sole objective of having this meeting on the serious matter is not to find fault with the Government rather identifying various ways to overcome the problem. The following important panelists were invited for the discussion:

Mr. Basanta Kumar Kar, Senior Advisor,The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security (India);
Mr. Amulya Ratna Nanda IAS (retd), Ex-Director General of Census, Govt. of India and President of Population Foundation;
Dr. Mrs. Bidyut Mohanty, noted Social Scientist and social activist; and
Mr. Shubhro Roy, Social Activist and Member of National Social Watch

Mr. Basanta Kumar Kar, presented a case study of NAGDA, a village in Sukinda block of Jajpur district where 19 children of Juanga tribe were reported to have died due to malnutrition. Mr. Kar identified the root causes of malnutrition in various areas of Odisha and also gave some recommendations which could really address the problem. He mentioned:
• supplementary nutrition to be taken care of on evidence base,
• decentralized bottom up agenda should be taken,
• food safety and food chain are very important
He suggested that locally available foods which have great nutritional values like Miner–millet (Mandia), sweet potatoes and drumsticks should be encouraged to consume on regular basis as they are affordable by everyone.
Dr. Mrs. Bidyut Mohanty suggested three major actions to tackle the malnutrition problem:
1. Improved communication system (motorable roads to the hill top of Nagada village and other in accessible areas),
2. Focused CSR by industries situated in nearby areas (Nagada is in the backyard of Kalinga Nagar, an industrial hub),
3. Effective decentralization – more inclusion of villagers in the devolution of power system as well as pallisabhas

She also said the MNREGA is not working at all in this area and why the MLA LAD money is not being used for improvement of peoples’ lives for so many years.

Social activist Mr. Shubhro Roy raised some vital questions such as whether malnutrition death is a manmade disaster, why we do not have a national or a state policy, and whether we can make this issue a public discourse.
Mr. Amulya Ratna Nanda IAS (retd), Ex-Director General of Census, clarified that the two child policy of Mr. Biju Pattnaik (former Chief Minister of Odisha) has been debarring tribal women to contest in the Panchayat elections. Also he said Niti Ayog should focus on Sustainable Development Goals.
Besides, many suggestions came from the floor that though the density of NGOs is more in the state in comparison to other states there is no visible impact on the ground. So, involvement of civil society organizations is very important to identify the problems and reach to the solutions. Therefore, there should be synergy between Government agencies and civil society while executing various policies. And there should be proper audit for utilization of the global funding received by the state for nutrition.

At the conclusion Mr. Sanjib Kumar Mohanty, Vice President of the Forum extended vote of thanks to speakers and participants.

The way forward of the meeting is – Odisha Forum will prepare certain recommendations on the malnutrition issue and send to Government of Odisha.

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