Tackling malnutrition among excluded children
ECHO-supported CBDRR initiative by UNICEF in Bihar
Kaushalya and Ranjit belong to a socially excluded schedule caste. Their family also includes their seven other children. The family is landless and agricultural labour is their sole source of a livelihood.
With the village located very near to rivers Buri Gandak and Dhanauti - originating in the Himalayas - the village is always highly vulnerable to flooding.
Indu Jha, one of the forty village motivators trained under the Early Recovery Programme for Flood Mitigation supported by UNICEF and the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) visited the Kaushalya and Ranjit family to screen children for malnutrition.
Severe Acute Malnutrition
Indu was aware of the serious consequences of SAM for child survival, as children with SAM are 5-20 times at a greater risk of death if treatment is delayed.
East Champaran has the advantage of a functional Nutrition Rehabilitation Center (NRC) for the treatment of children with SAM, like Rakesh and Chandan. Kaushalya, along with two sons, agreed for the in-patient treatment. As a result of treatment at the NRC for 14 days followed by regular counseling by Indu, the level of malnutrition in both children substantially went down.
Two months after admission in the programme, Rakesh had gained 700 grams in weight, while Chandan had gained 400 grams; similarly, the MUAC reading increased by 11 mm for Rakesh and 10 mm for Chandan.
Constant follow-up to promote improved feeding and care practices and to empower mothers to prevent and recognize malnutrition in their children, proved to be rewarding. Demonstrations on how to improve the quality of complementary foods and feeding practices, preparation and use of oral rehydration salts (ORS), and improved hand-washing and hygiene practices were key sessions that Indu facilitated during mothers’ meetings and home visits.