Maneka Gandhi launches ‘Forest Lanterns’

September 27, 2017

New Delhi: India’s Minster of Women & Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, launched a book Forest Lanterns. The book contains essays on solutions for improving nutrition among children in tribal areas.

A number of promising solutions have been developed and deployed across the country to address challenges related to nutrition among tribal children. Written by a who’s who, Forest Lanterns showcases solutions that have been drawn from various states including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.

‘Forest Lanterns’, a UNICEF-OneWorld Foundation India publication presents 46 innovative and successful practices covering not only under-nutrition of tribal children and their mothers, but also related aspects like farming practices, food security, healthcare, drinking water and sanitation, governance, and media’s role.

Maneka launched the book during a national conference on ‘Mission Mode to address Under-Nutrition’. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Women & Child Development in collaboration with Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, with the focus on ‘Mission Malnutrition Free India-2022’.

Speaking on the occasion, Maneka Gandhi said that after the resounding success of Prime Minister’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, the WCD Ministry is now targeting malnutrition. “For this, there is urgent need to improve the quality of supplementary nutrition and also make the delivery system efficient,” she added.

Maneka Gandhi said, “We must provide 1000 calories to women and 600 calories to children under ICDS. The focus of the entire programme should be to administer nutrition rather than feeding beneficiaries by giving ‘Nutrient Dense Food’. A change in policy is required to implement this,” she said.

The WCD Ministry is all set to issue new guidelines on supplementary nutrition in this regard in the next few days which will supersede all existing guidelines. Similarly, a separate self contained protocol for severely and acutely malnourished (SAM) children will also be issued shortly. The Minister also highlighted the importance of child protection along with stressing the emphasis on nutrition.

The Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Dr Virendra Kumar, said that India has succeeded in eliminating several difficult problems like chickenpox, polio etc. “It should not be difficult for the country to overcome the problem of malnutrition. The deputy commissioners/district collectors along with other district level functionaries will have to take responsibility for the mission to eliminate malnutrition by 2022,” he said.

Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, India’s planning body, said that the responsibility of tackling malnutrition lies on the shoulders of deputy commissioners/district collectors who should now take the lead in tackling the problem using a convergence approach as well as with the help of IT tools for real time monitoring.

Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer, said the problem of malnutrition is closely linked to the problem of drinking water and sanitation. The Swachh Bharat Mission is trying to achieve the goal of total sanitation which will also contribute to reducing problem of malnutrition.

Some of the important sessions at the conference included efficacy of food fortification, sustainable solution through breast feeding, dietary diversification, improving maternal & child health through Mission Indradhanush, improving program delivery effectiveness, accelerating Real Time Monitoring among others.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi also gave away awards to three States including Gujarat, and the tribal dominated states of Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh for substantial reduction in stunting during the ten year period between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4.

The conference discussed a multitude of topics relating to stunting, under-nutrition and wasting and the key strategic interventions which are urgently required in the presence of various district and state level authorities.