The Nutrition Initiative
Strong Brains and Bodies are the Foundation of Community Sustainability
At HEF, we were disturbed to learn that Uttarakhand has higher maternal and infant mortality than the national average. 59% of the children under age 5 are anemic. Many are stunted (short for their age) or wasted (underweight for their height). These conditions are caused by undernourishment. Lack of food during early childhood has lifelong and intergenerational impacts on health, brain development, educational attainment, employment, achievement, and mortality. Good nutrition is critical to our mission of fostering strong communities.
Using standards developed by the World Health Organization, the most recent data on children in rural Uttarakhand indicate that:
34% of children under 5 years are stunted
19.9% of children under 5 years are wasted
9.7% of children under 5 years are severely wasted
27.1% of children under 5 years are underweight
59% of children between 6-59 months are anemic1
1National Family Health Survey, Uttarakhand Fact Sheet, 2015-16
Current Initiatives: The Nutrition Initiative
In 2011, the Himalayan Inter College started a dairy program with 3 cows to provide hostel students with fresh milk each day. The herd has grown to10 cows. Their milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D for the students.
This year with the assistance of a volunteer with a background in Global Health, we will be learning about the nutritional status and food access in Chaukori. We plan to assess the security, diversity and access to food, as well as the nutritional status of the women of child-bearing age and the children. After doing careful assessments, we plan to collaborate with the school and local families to find ways to assure adequate nutrition, especially for the women and children.
HIC will continue to build the dairy herd as a component of the Vocational Program at the school. Through taking care of the cows, children will learn improved techniques for feeding and dairy management. We anticipate that they will share these skills with their families as a way to improve dairy practices in the region.
Nutrition is an essential component of preparing children for lifetime success. We are looking forward to working with local people to assure that the pre-school and school children in the Chaukori area have all the benefits that a healthy diet can provide.