Report of Monitoring Team on Intervention of State Govt. in response to alleged Hunger and Malnutrition death of Infants of Juang tribes in Nagada village of Jajpur district, Odisha
In the wake of news highlighted by Mass Media about death of 20 infants due to malnutrition in Nagada village of Jajpur district and subsequent public outcry and reaction of opposition political parties accusing state’s mal-administration responsible for such unfortunate incident, the State Govt. responded immediately from 14.7.16 by sending a number of officials to Nagada village to assess the situation of Juang tribes and their children. Since last 20 days, Mass media has been highlighting a number of steps taken by the district administration in this village to check malnutrition and provide free health service to malnourished children by sending special doctor team and referring them to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC). Besides that the State Govt. has also started construction of road to Nagada from Deogaon, distribution of water filter and food materials like rice and dal to each family and installation of Solar Light etc.
Having gone through the news, it was felt by Right to Food Campaign, Odisha to visit Nagada village again to monitor performance of Govt. officials and their intervention to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition, development work, if any taken by Govt. for the socio-economic development of Juang tribes. It is needless to mention here that a six-member Fact-finding Team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha had visited Nagada village on 15th and 16th July 2016 to ascertain the facts about alleged child malnutrition and suggested the State Govt. to take steps for the development of the tribals. On 18.7.16, the Fact-finding report was also presented to Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha, Secretary, Women and Child Development Department, Health and Family Welfare Department, SC and ST development Department and Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Central Division, Cuttack seeking enquiry and quick action by the Govt. to save the tribals from hunger and malnutrition.
As decided earlier, a 7-member Fact-finding Team visited Nagada village on 5.8.16 to assess and monitor performance and intervention of the State Govt. The Team Members were as follows.
1. Pradip Pradhan,Member, Advisory Group of NHRC on Right to Food, M-9937843482
2. Kalandi Mallik, District Convener, Right to Food Campaign, Jajpur district, M- 9938618390
3. Biswanath Patra,Human Rights Activist, Sukinda, Jajpur District
4. Sanjay Nayak, Social Activist, Bhuban, Dhenkanal District
5. Kali Prasanna Mohanty, RTI Activist, Badachana, Jajpur
6. Ananta Kumar Das, Member, Odisha Soohana Adhikar Abhijan, M- 9437672036
7. Hrudanand Mallik, Social Activist, Bhuban, Dhenkanal district
Visit of the Team
The Team started journey from Deogan village amidst heavy rain at 11 o’clock and reached in Nagada at 2 pm. The team members spent 4 hours on Hilltop interacting with the villagers, relief team, visiting Medical Camp, police camp along with VHF set up, inspecting various works and materials distributed by Govt. in the village and started returning back from Nagada at 6 pm evening and reached at Deogaon, foot of the Hill at 10 PM covering dark mountainous forest track. This time journey was very tedious, adventurous and memorable for all of us.
1. Meeting with Govt. official
The Team members found presence of a number of Govt. official and their camps in Nagada village and met the following Govt. officials and volunteers of NGOs deputed by Govt. who have been stationed there to carry out different works entrusted to them in the best interest of Juang tribes.
a. Sri Asit Nayak of Valid India Trust engaged by Women and Child Development Dept. to identify malnourished children, monitor their health and ensures treatment to malnourished children in collaboration with Govt. Doctors.
b. Kamala Pradhan, Mini Anganwadi Worker , newly applointed by Govt. to manage ICDS programme
c. Ms. Manorama Pradhan, Anganwadi worker along with other seven AWWs deputed by Govt. to monitor health of the children, pregnant woman and enforce ICDS service.
d. Four Police personnel deployed to maintain law and order in Nagada and found playing cards day and night without bothering anything.
e. Teachers of ASPIRE NGO conducting pre-school and joyful education in Nagada and managing noon food provided to the children funded by T.S.R.D.
f. Assistant Computer Programmer deputed by BDO, Sukinda Block undertaking survey to identify the families left out of purview of National Food Security Act.
2. Intervention on Child Malnutrition- One Step Forward
The Team came across a health camp under a tent functioning in the village with appointment of a Doctor, ANM and other para-medical staff. The Team met two volunteers Asit Nayak and Suryakant of Valid India Trust, NGO examining health condition of malnourished children. During interaction with them, it was found that Women and Child Development Dept had engaged them to look into malnourished children. The task assigned to them was identifying malnourished children, monitoring their health, providing nutritious food and ensuring their treatment in consultation with Medical Team. They were also providing EDNRF (Energy Dense Nutrient Rich Food), a nutritious liquid packed food to the malnourished children. There are still 16 malnourished children ( seven Acquit Malnourished and nine Moderate Acquit Malnourished) identified in the village, says Asit Nayak, VIT Volunteer. On 26.7.16, one 2 year old infant Rebati Pradhan, daughter of Sania Pradhan whose condition is very critical has been referred to NRC (Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre) for better treatment. The Team came across two malnourished children whose condition was very critical.
3. Intervention on ICDS – Just beginning to see the children free from Malnutrition.
The Team came across a team of Anganwadi Workers along with a Supervisor interacting with women and filling up Forms and maintaining Registers in different locations in the village. While interacting with Smt. Manorama Pradhan, one of Anganwadi Workers’ team deputed to Nagada said that they have been assigned with task of sensitising pregnant and lactating woman about health, child care, breastfeeding etc. and conducting survey for newly opened two Mini Anganwadi Centres. The Team members met Kamala Pradhan, newly-appointed Mini Anganwadi Worker who was found feeding her son 2 years old only cooked rice without any curry or dal and wanted to know her assignment and how she was discharging her duties. She said that she got appointed seven days back and serving noon cooked food to the children. No breakfast is provided to the children.
4. Intervention on Food Security- Still Nightmare?
Prior to visit Nagada village, it was decided by the Team to study minutely about food security situation of Juang people and substantial improvement, if any in their food security after intervention of the Govt. Accordingly, the team members visited three houses and interacted with number of the villagers to know about their present principal food item consumed by them. The Team observed that two people were eating rice and fried leaves, one consuming only cooked rice and salt and a 3 year old child consuming only cooked rice with fried leaves. On query about reason for consumption of only rice and fried leaves, they said that they had nothing to eat. Then, they were asked to know about type of food materials provided to them by Govt. Mania Pradhan, Kartik Pradhan and other villagers said that the Govt. has provided rice and Mug Dal to each family. On 24.7.16, 5 kg Rice has been provided per person in each family and 2 to 3 kg mug dal has been allotted to each family keeping in view size of the family by the Govt. besides that Chuda and Guda has also been provided to each family which is hardly consumed by them. On query about why they are not consuming dal every day, they said that it will be tasteless. Besides that no food item has been provided to them.
It was also found that few people who have been left out under NFSA are being provided new ration card as Priority Household (PHH). No Antodaya card has been given to them as required to meet direction of the Supreme Court that each Primitive Tribal Groups are entitled to get 35 kg rice per month whatever may be their family size. The people are seen very dull, physically weak and unable to do hard work.
5. Free Kitchen for children
With support from T.S.R.D., an NGO called ASPIRE is running free kitchen in Nagada village. One cooked meal in every day is provided to 80 children. The food menu served to them was rice, dal and soya chuk curry without any vegetable.
6Intervention on Infrastructure Development
a.The Govt. has started road construction work at Deogaon to Nagada.
b. Each family has been provided water flter which has remained inside their house without any use.
c. Solar light has been installed in the village with connection to few families. The work is going on.
d. Construction of two new wells has been started.
e. Dress, sari, fan and mosquito net has been provided to each family.
Analysis and Recommendations
A. As there was allegation of malnutrition as reason for death of the children in Nagada village, the Govt. has taken it as primary responsibility to check malnutrition among the children by undertaking series of activity including deputing medical team and opening medial camp in the village. Regular health monitoring, providing nutritious food, medicine to the malnourished children, regular treatment, sensitisation activity by Anganwadi Workers , Opening Anganwadi Mini Centre, and referring acute malnourished children to NRC has been on-going work which is a laudable job done by Govt.
B. The issue of Malnutrition should not be taken as health problem. Rather it is a food security problem. Due to acute food crisis, a man remains in hunger and chronic huger leads to malnutrition or starvation death. In Nagada, food insecurity is the major problem which has not been addressed by the Govt. till yet. Due to lack of purchasing power, the villagers could not purchase any food item for their consumption. So they are seen forced to take only rice, fried leaves and salt. May times, they also could not purchase salt. Remaining hunger and taking only rice has not only weakened their body but caused huge malnutrition among children. The pregnant and lactating women have suffered from several diseases. To address this problem, the state Govt. has started distribution of rice and dal to each family. Dal cannot always be consumed by anybody. The State Govt. has not provided sufficient dal to them. So finding no other item for food, they still continue to consume same food i.e., rice, salt and fried leaves considered by them as Principal Food, observed by the Team. It should be kept in mind by Govt or any Non-Govt. Organisations, unless food insecurity issue is addressed, malnutrition cannot be checked. The Team also found that noon meal provided to the children supported by TSRD is devoid of any vegetables and egg.
C. The Govt. has not yet started any labour intensive work for the people. Unless the Govt. starts employment generation work, the villagers cannot earn and continue to depend on Govt. for relief materials. It is also not practically possible on part of the Govt. to continue to provide relief to the villagers for months together. If relief is stopped, the tribals will again face same problem and continue to suffer.
Recommendation of the Team
Keeping in view the above situation, the Team makes following recommendation to the State Govt. and RDC-led Task Force to strengthen socio-economic condition of Juang tribes.
1. The Team feels that the half-hazard intervention and relief operation undertaken by Govt. will no way help the tribals. Malnutrition can be addressed for some period. But it can not be checked in long run. Malnutrition can be checked through strengthening their food security. So besides distribution of rice and dal, the Govt. should provide potato, onion, oil, egg and vegetables as relief materials to each family in order to strengthen their food security. Rice and dal may not address their hunger problem in the long run.
2. Free kitchen centre opened for children can be used to provide food to weak and older persons. This should be provided twice in a day. Vegetable and egg curry should be food item in free kitchen centre. It should continue at least for 3 months.
3. The Govt. should immediately start labour intensive work in order to provide employment to the villagers. So that they can earn and survive independently without depending on relief.
4. Agriculture work, horticulture, plantation programme should be undertaken with the objective to engage them in agriculture activity for their livelihood.
5. Road construction work should be undertaken on war-footing way to ensure quick connectivity to Nagada village which stands as biggest problem for any kind of intervention by Govt. or Non-Govt. bodies.
Report prepared by
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