In order to address the problem of malnutrition such as stunting, underweight, and wasting, especially in children, there is a need to take up sustained efforts that require grass root synergy and convergence. PRIs (Panchayat Raj Institutes) are placed at a focal position in the intervention, as they have a dual role in implementing and monitoring the government programmes.
PRIs in their constituency were envisaged to plan their development works based on locally felt needs, raise revenue resources locally from assigned sources and implementation of development projects initiated by the Central and the State Governments. Thus, it became a cornerstone in the strategy of balanced regional development with broader participation of common people in engendering greater transparency and accountability in governance.
Engaging PRIs is very important for the success of POSHAN Abhiyaan through Jan Andolan to improve nutrition outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
How to engage PRIs in POSHAN Abhiyaan for reduction of malnutrition and way for preparing Kuposhan Mukt Panchayat (Malnutrition Free Panchayat)
Nutrition is one of the priority domains under the functions of PRIs.
National Nutrition Mission (NNM) and National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) planned a major role in combating malnutrition through PRIs. There are different schemes and programmes such as ICDS, Mid-Day Meal, PDS etc. implemented for the nutrition of children and family.
- National Nutritional Mission – INCLUSIVE PARTICIPATION
The National Nutrition Mission focuses on improving nutrition in a Jan Andolan (Formation of the Human Chain, Cycle Race, etc. for community mobilization.) through the involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions, Villages Organizations, Self Help Groups etc. It also ensures wide public participation. As a strategy, the PRIs may be engaged in a community-level competition with rewards for good achievements. They can also be invited to monitor activities along with Officials.
- Community Based Events (CBE)
The CBEs gives greater powers to the villages/Panchayats to organize community-based traditional events to promote and support behaviour changes. It helps to improve maternal and child nutrition, such as inviting women during the first, second, and third trimester of pregnancy, annaprasan Diwas, suposhan Diwas (focus on orienting husband), message related to Public Health for improvement of Nutrition and to reduce illness, nutrition & health education, supplementary nutrition and pre-school non-formal education.
The Panchayats also are obliged to supervise and monitor all the other activities beyond the CBEs as they exercise greater powers in terms of mass awareness generation.
- National Nutritional Strategy – SYSTEMATIC ACTION PLAN
To implement National Nutritional Strategy, a systematical action plan is necessary from the panchayat to the state level.
The major strategies include
- Governance reform (nutrition centre stage and public accountability)
- Convergence approach, prioritize vulnerable communities, counselling to pregnant lactating and by the skilled counsellor, peer counsellor
- Community-based monitoring and restructuring Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme
- Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day (VHSND) -CONVERGENCE FOR SYNERGISTIC APPROACH
The committee of Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition is recognized as a Sub-Committees of Panchayats to provide a platform for convergence at the field level between the National Health Mission, ICDS and Swachh Bharat for addressing different determinants of under-nutrition synergistically.
- Through different training, meetings, and workshops with PRIs it was found that members were not aware of government schemes and programmes related to nutrition, malnutrition of children and their role in POSHAN Abhiyaan.
- It is essential to search for nutrition champions from both male and female Sarpanches covering all Blocks and districts and to observe how they can involve the agenda in their meetings of Gram Panchayat.
- PRI members should launch a ‘Malnutrition-Free Panchayat’ drive to help people understand the benefits of a nutritious meal, the Government schemes to tackle undernutrition, followed by a commitment to fight the problem together.
- At the village level, convergence is required with agencies providing nutrition, sanitation, education, livelihood/poverty alleviation and empowerment schemes.