Undernutrition Garners Little Attention in Indian Media

Undernutrition is an emergency in India, where almost half of all children under the age of three are underweight. However, even in the face of such a crisis, this issue garners little attention in Indian media.

POSHAN Media Fellows
POSHAN Media Fellows

To address the lack of nutrition reporting in India, POSHAN and OneWorld Foundation implemented the six-month OneWorld-POSHAN Fellowship on Maternal and Child Undernutrition from May–December 2013. Six journalists from various media outlets such as The New York Times, Dainik Jagran, The Hindu, Chapte Chapte, The Hindustan Times, and www.newsclick.in participated in the program.

On March 19th, POSHAN and OneWorld organized a workshop with the six media fellows to share their learnings from their reporting from the field. The workshop focused on their experiences and observations during the course of their travels to various parts of the country collectively preparing over 30 pieces on mother and child undernutrition.

Many fellows spoke about the huge problems they saw in the field with nutrition services for the poor. For example, Mukesh Kejriwal of Dainik Jagran presented photos exposing flaws with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. One photo showed a broken-down Anganwadi centre without a roof. He spoke about the lack of commitment of officials at the centres that he visited, and how in one centre, the officials had locked up the materials that were meant to be used for the welfare of children.

Malavika Vyawahare from The New York Times spoke about how there is no proper compilation of nutrition data on which the government can actually base its work. She also spoke of an instance in which she saw a modern, electric weighing machine in an Anganwadi centre in a tribal district in Maharashtra, which was useless because that part of the country is not connected to the electricity grid.

Neha Dikshit, who wrote her articles for www.newsclick.in, focused on the fact that some of the government schemes meant to improve the plight of rural women and children have in fact been detrimental for them. She mentioned how a Haryana government scheme providing cash assistance to marriageable women led to teen marriages, deaths of pregnant girls, and parents started forced schools to give under-age certificates.

Pankaj Jaiswal, from The Hindustan Times, spoke about the existence of undernutrition in the so-called 'well fed' urban population. Thanking the fellowship program for raising his awareness on the issues, he said that he is likely to keep writing on the issue.

Freelance journalist Saadia Azim spoke about how migrants are facing the brunt of nutrition problems. During her travels to villages in Bengal, she found that poor diet haunted all migrants, regardless of caste, religion, or even region. For her, a huge issue was that nobody was even talking about malnutrition as an election issue.

The fellows concluded the meeting with a consensus on how much more the media needs to do in terms of reporting on nutrition. They stressed that the issue of undernutrition has an impact on national security and wellbeing of the country and thus needs to be taken up much more in the media and addressed by the government.

Learn more by visiting the OneWorld-POSHAN Fellowship on Maternal and Child Undernutrition site to read all the news articles.

Submission Guidelines and Form: Research Abstract

Research Abstract Submission Guidelines and Form

Background on Abstract Themes

POSHAN_Transform_Nutrition_5You are invited to submit abstracts of your work to be presented at the conference by April 25, 2014. To understand what evidence is emerging from studies on cross-sectoral interventions to improve nutrition, we invite researchers to submit research abstracts on ongoing or completed studies that can provide evidence on process outcomes or impact of cross-sectoral interventions on nutrition. Examples of research abstracts could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Research on nutrition programs and interventions that were led by more than one sector. Research methods, tools, and resources to conduct research on how sectors can be brought together and the impact of multisectoral on intersectoral collaboration on nutrition services or outcomes are of particular interest. Types of research featured in this focus area include policy and stakeholder analysis, operational research, or program evaluations.

Submissions are also being accepted for Implementation Abstracts. Abstract submissions which do not clearly fall under Research or Implementation topic areas of interest, but are relevant to the theme of the event, will still be considered.

Abstract Submission and Review Process

Abstracts must be submitted by Friday April 25, 2014,at 5pm IST.

A review committee from POSHAN and Transform Nutrition will select 10–12 of the submitted abstracts to be featured as written case studies and oral presentations at the conference. The committee will review these based on 1) relevance to the event theme, 2) practical application, and 3) clarity and completeness of abstract.

The committee will also select an additional 20–25 abstracts to be presented as posters. Abstracts chosen for presentation at the conference or for poster will be notified by email by May 30, 2014.

Selected Abstracts

If your abstract is accepted as a case study, a team of writers from POSHAN and Transform Nutrition will work with you between June-August, 2014 to develop a 4-page case study that will be printed and distributed at the conference. The team will also be available to assist you in preparing a related slide presentation on the case that you will present at the conference.

For those abstracts selected as posters, guidelines will be provided to you on what to include on these.

Questions? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at IFPRI-POSHAN@cgiar.org

Together for Nutrition 2014: Conference Announcement and Call for Abstracts

TN-2014POSHAN (Partnerships and Opportunities to Strengthen and Harmonize Actions for Nutrition in India) and Transform Nutrition are pleased to announce the conference Together for Nutrition 2014: Working Across Sectors to Improve Nutrition in India, which will be held October 29–30, 2014, in New Delhi.

This conference will serve as an important platform for learning and facilitating discussion around the challenging task of bringing diverse sectors together to improve maternal and child nutrition in India. The conference is intended to bring together evidence that can inform and support current policy and program initiatives for nutrition that require cross-sectoral action by two or more sectors, such as the Government of India’s Multisectoral Program to Address Maternal and Child Malnutrition in 200 Selected High-Burden Districts.  Attendees will have the opportunity to explore how decisions and actions in different sectors can influence nutrition, and how effective cross-sectoral actions can be planned, implemented and assessed. Specific objectives of the conference are to:

  • Provide a platform for dialogue on how to advance multisectoral or intersectoral collaboration in India
  • Showcase examples of collaboration between various sectors on program development and implementation to address nutrition
  • Examine approaches for research on multisectoral and intersectoral collaboration and convergence in India
  • Explore how the current public policy and environment provides opportunities and challenges for multisectoral or intersectoral approaches addressing nutrition in India
  • Provide opportunity for networking among nutrition professionals and those working across sectors

Examples of working across sectors will include:

  • State nutrition missions that include multi- or inter-sectoral coordination and convergence
  • District-level convergence to bring health and ICDS together to strengthen delivery of nutrition-specific interventions
  • Block-level operational planning and implementation of cross-sectoral  actions
  • Engaging self-help groups to create demand and strengthen local accountability for health and nutrition services at the village level

To learn more about the conference, please read our conference backgrounder.

Also, please see the following to learn more about the current state of working across sectors in nutrition in India:
•       Working Multisectorally to Improve Nutrition: Global Lessons and Current Status in India (Garrett et al. 2014)
•       The Operational Evidence Base for Delivering Direct Nutrition Interventions in India (Avula et al. 2013)
•       Analyzing Intersectoral Convergence to Improve Child Undernutrition in India (Ved and Menon 2012)
•       Strengthening the Role of Agriculture for a Nutrition Secure India (Kadiyala, Joshi, Dev et al. 2011)

Abstract Submission

Abstracts must be submitted by Friday April 25, 2014,at 5pm IST.

Click to access Implementation Abstract Submission Guidelines and Form
Click to access Research Abstract Submission Guidelines and Form

Questions? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at IFPRI-POSHAN@cgiar.org

New Abstract Digest on Maternal and Child Nutrition Research – Issue 7

We are pleased to release Issue 7 of our bi-monthly Abstract Digest on maternal and child nutrition. This issue features interesting publications examining nutrition from both a biological and political lens, in India and beyond. Highlights include:

Abstract Digest-Issue 07
Abstract Digest-Issue 07
Click to download PDF (708 Kb)

Abstract Digest-Issue 07

  • A special open-access issue of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences on integrating nutrition and early childhood development interventions
  • Two articles from Advances in Nutrition discussing 1) how nutrition research can become more useful in informing global nutrition guidelines (Stoltzfus 2014), and 2) arguing for the need to develop implementation science to enable stronger delivery of adequate nutrition to those in need (Habicht and Pelto 2014).
  • One study in Bio Medical Education identifying gaps in South Asian postgraduate nutrition programs to build capacity to address the current public health nutrition challenges (Khandelwal et al. 2014).
  • Two reviews, one providing an overview of the evidence-base for nutritional deficits in early life and greater risk for non-communicable diseases in later life (Langley-Evans 2014) and the other recommending investments in improving maternal autonomy to improve child nutritional status (Carlson et al. 2014).
  • Several articles focusing specifically on malnutrition in India, including on determinants of anemia (Anand 2013), vitamin A programming in India and its reach (Aguayo 2014), and management of severe acute malnutrition (Singh et al. 2014; Kumar et al. 2013).


IFPRI Hosts Policy Seminar on “Social Protection, Food Security and Nutrition” in New Delhi

Written by Suman Chakrabarti, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division, International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), organized a policy seminar on “Social Protection & Safety Net

Source: Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI
Source: Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI

Interventions” in the month of February in New Delhi. The seminar touched on the role of food and cash transfers in improving poverty, food security and nutrition, in global and regional contexts. All speakers were well received by the audience and the seminar was lively with an array of wide ranging questions and discussions.

The first speaker, John Hoddinott, Deputy Director at the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division – IFPRI , Washington,  DC, pooled insights from recent studies in Ecuador, Niger, Uganda and Yemen, on social protection programs and their nutrition outcomes. He highlighted the relative advantages and drawbacks of cash, voucher and food transfers in terms of cost effectiveness, achievement of caloric intake increase and impact sufficiency to reduce chronic under-nutrition in young children. In addition, he shared very recent findings on the impact of combining behavioural change interventions with cash transfers in Bangladesh.

The second speaker, Avinash Kishore, Associate Research Fellow, IFPRI, New Delhi, shared insights from a working paper that investigates the impact of reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, on the offtake of rice from fair price shops as well as on the reallocation of savings towards other food groups.  These findings are central in the context of India’s National Food Security Act (NFSA) which was enacted in 2013.  The NFSA lays out very similar PDS reforms in terms of price reductions for key cereals and increase in the population covered, accompanied with supply side corrections, as were enforced in the aforementioned states.

The third and final speaker, Reetika Khera, Assistant Professor, Economics, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, discussed her research on shifts in India’s PDS. She discussed various facets of interest within the PDS including coverage, leakage, implicit subsidies, exclusion errors, and nutritional impacts, among others.  The findings indicate an overall revival of the PDS in India albeit with high interstate variations. She concluded that there was a long way to go for improvements in the PDS, and emphasized that key reforms should focus on an expansion in the implicit subsidy given to households, incentives, computerization, and decentralization.

Issues and questions raised in the discussion period included:
- What is better in India’s context, cash or food? A balanced approach would be a contextualized response, where cash could be better for some regions and food for others.
- What might be the possible measures to control leakages in the PDS? Mechanisms to check leakages might be easier to enforce under a cash transfer paradigm with the use of IT.
-Targeting versus universalization of the PDS: Given the large targeting errors for AAYs, BPLs, and APLs, would a universalized PDS prove to be more effective?
- What is the role of the private sector in grain management? Can the private sector distribute grains more efficiently and cost effectively?
- What are the effects of transfers on households? How do they re-allocate savings from subsidies? What are the effects on women’s empowerment?

Presentation 1-Social safety nets, food security and nutrition

Presenation 2-Revival of the PDS Evidence and Explanations

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