Nutrition drive dropped despite positive results

Nutrition drive dropped despite positive results

At a time when about 50% of children ranging from 0 to 5 years in the state are malnourished, a nutrition supplement programme targeting the undernourished received little support from the government despite promising results in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

Despite promising results, there is no sign of extending the “Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project” launched on a pilot basis in Raichur and Kalaburagi districts to other backward taluks merely because it is an expensive affair.

The project was funded by the World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) which was implemented on a pilot basis in Devadurga of Raichur district and Chincholi of Kalaburagi district in 2015.

READ: Malnutrition: When the system fails children

Though the Karnataka Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society under the aegis of the Karnataka Nutrition Mission had completed the pilot period in September 2018, the government is silent about extending the project to other parts. Field officials revealed to DH that the project addressed malnutrition to a certain extent.

Shockingly, even in Chincholi and Devadurga, the project was stopped abruptly for the last six months citing lack of funds. “It is an expensive project and has to be taken up by the Women and Child Development Department for further expansion, “an official explained.

Subodh Yadav, secretary, Hyderabad Karnataka Regional Development Board (HKRDB) said, “We have communicated to the Women and Child Development department about the completion of the project and also informed them that it would be ideal for department to run the project to achieve even better results in the long run.” However, there seems to be no response from the department till date.

Following the successful completion of the pilot project, the World Bank stopped funds forcing HKRDB to release Rs 2.5 crore in 2018 to support the project.

“Considering that the pilot project was done on a small sample size in a few villages, it is not clear whether the improvement among beneficiaries was due to the project. This was conveyed to the department and their opinion on extending the project to other taluks was sought. In fact, we had taken the opinion from the chief executive officers of both Kalaburagi and Raichur zilla panchayats. Now, it is up to the government to decide,” Yadav explained.

Shivayogi B Mathpati, programme manager, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust said, “As far as I have seen, it was a good project with positive results and it should be extended to other districts for better results.” Today, in the absence of the decision by the government, the unit that was set up then to prepare the formulated food under the project at a cost of Rs 1 crore has remained idle.

Announced in 2008, the project actually took off in 2013 owing to political reasons. In 2008, the government tried to shift the pilot project from Kalaburagi and Raichur district to Tumakuru and Shivamogga districts. However, when the issue whipped up political controversy, the government dropped Shivamogga and Tumakuru and launched the pilot project as planned in Hyderabad Karnataka region in 2013.

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