Malnutrition is more widespread in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. One inthree malnourished children in the world lives in India.
According to UNICEF, about 50% of all childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition.
As many as 48% of Indian children under 5 years of age are stunted, a sign of chronic malnutrition.
Girl children are even more vulnerable than boys to malnutrition and mortality (NFHS 3, 2005-2006).
Since its inception, CINI’s work with deprived communities has focused on nutrition, a problem that remains crucial in India to this day, despite the country’s progress and exponential economic growth. A child who is malnourished in the womb and in her first two years of life is unlikely to reach her full physical and mental potential. Lack of proper nourishment in the womb can cause brain damage, stillbirth and neo-natal death. A malnourished child is more susceptible to illness and may have limited educational capacity. In a child, proper nutritional status is a prerequisite for attaining adequate health, education and protection.
The problem of malnutrition is not always as straightforward as simply lack of food. Many families do not always share food equally among their members. Mothers and infants, especially girls, are rarely given priority. Traditionally, women eat last in Indian families When food is scarce, men receive more than women, boys more than girls, older children more than younger children. Diet can be imbalanced due to a limited understanding of nutrition, as well as lack of food availability. For example, less than half of Indian children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed (NFHS 3, 2005-2006). CINI’s nutrition projects focus on educating women, especially pregnant and lactating mothers, to make the most of what is available. This process is usually entrusted to health workers, local women who are trained by CINI and those who can approach women in their homes in villages and slums.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure full physical and mental growth and development in children by ensuring adequate nutrition during the critical periods of the life cycle. Our interventions aim to address a variety of determinants of malnutrition in children, adolescents and pregnant women in terms of health, hygiene and sanitation, child care, appropriate feeding practices (including breastfeeding), growth monitoring and promotion, adoption of low-cost home-madee foods, promotion of gender equality.
In addition to promoting community-based nutrition interventions, we care for severely malnourished children in our Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), where balanced food is provided in small but frequent amounts to increase a child’s weight safely over a period of several weeks. Our lowcost model to rehabilitate severely malnourished children has been adopted in a number of state governments’ interventions as part of the National Rural Health Mission effort to reduce severe malnutrition.
To find out more about our nutrition projects please contact us directly on Freya@cini.org.uk
Growing children with Nutrimix
In the early 1970s, CINI developed Nutrimix, a low-cost nutritious food made from locally available cereals (rice/wheat) and legumes (dal – lentils), which washas have been promoted at home and in the community level, as well as in Government health and nutrition programmes. With the help of a World Bank grant, Nutrimix has been commercialized by women’s self-help groups as a social business venture to offer a socially appropriate alternative to industrially produced weaning foods.
Providing iron supplements to children and women
To address iron deficiency anaemia, CINI has partnered with Government and international NGOs to provide iron supplements to children and women.
Across a range of nutrition interventions, our primary concern from the beginning has been the first 1000 critical days of the life cycle – the period spanning pregnancy and the two first years of a child’s life. Since the 1970’s, our home and community-based measures have been aimed at preventing malnutrition,improving access to health and nutrition information and education in local communities, and facilitating early access to healthcare.
Our work in education builds on the foundations laid down to ensure adequate nutrition and health throughout the critical phase of the child’s growth and development during the first 1,000 days of life.