Possible Causes of Malnutrition in Melghat, a Tribal Region of Maharashtra, India

  •  Tannaz Birdi    
  •  Sujay Joshi    
  •  Shrati Kotian    
  •  Shimoni Shah    


Melghat, situated in Amravati District of Maharashtra, India is a tribal region with amongst the highest numbers of malnutrition cases. This paper focuses on possible causes of malnutrition in the Dharni block of Melghat. Quantitative survey recorded the existing burden of malnutrition, kitchen garden (KG) practices, Public Distribution System, food provisioning, Anganwadi services and hygiene/sanitation in the community. Additionally a qualitative study was undertaken to understand the community’s perspective on nutrition, cultural beliefs, spending habits and other factors contributing to malnutrition. Malnutrition was found to be highly prevalent amongst all age groups with 54% children aged 1-5 years and 43% adults aged ? 20 years being severe to moderately underweight. A major cause for malnutrition in children was faulty child care practices. Data on food provisioning revealed that while the caloric needs of the community were substantially met by consumption of cereals and pulses, minimal consumption of green leafy vegetables (GLVs) could lead to micronutrient deficiency in the community. KGs, which provide GLVs, were mainly cultivated in monsoon (98%) which declined to merely 4% in summer. The benefits of government schemes though targeted at malnourished children were often shared by the entire household and thus got diluted. Key finding was that nutrition interventions should be designed to address the entire household and emphasis should be given to appropriate nutrition education, without which distributing food or increasing income would have minimal effect.

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