रविवार, 26 फ़रवरी 2017

3rd Fact-finding Report on Child Malnutrition in Nagada village in Odisha

3rd Fact-Finding Report on “Nagada Village- Epicentre of malnourished children” under Jajpur district, Odisha

 Eight Months  passed, since  the issue  of death  of   23  malnourished  children in Nagada village under   Jajpur  district, Odisha  touched headline of media in July 2016  and later on  generated huge  reaction  and  public protest  against  Govt. negligence  and indifferent attitude towards  food security  and welfare  of the tribal  children  in a small  village which is just  15 kms  away from Tata Mines area i.e., mineral rich belt of the state. After public  protest, the State Govt.  constituted  a Task Force  under chairmanship of Dr. A.B.Otta, Revenue Divisional Commissioner , Central Division  and undertook   a lot  of  programme / activity   like  distribution of water filter to each family,   conducting medical camp,  providing nutritious food  to the children, distribution of ration card under AYY to all the families,  distribution of forest land patta to the deserving families, distribution of food materials, setting up of Solar Light, supply of pipe water  and dug-well, opening Anganwadi centre and primary  school, construction of road  etc. to save the people from hunger and food insecurity.

It is needless to mention here that  When the  issue of death of children  was highlighted in media, a fact-finding Team of Right to Food  Campaign, Odisha  had immediately  visited  Nagada village  on 15th and 16th  July 2016 to  assess the situation of alleged  infant death due to malnutrition, reason of  infant deaths and rise of hunger and malnutrition in said  village, socio-economic condition  of Juang tribes, status of implementation  of food security  Programme and necessary steps required to be taken up in future to combat the problem.   The Team has made a lot of recommendations to the State Govt.  along with filling  complaint to NHRC seeking its intervention in order to give justice to Juang tribes. Then,  on 5.8.16, a 7-member Fact-finding Team had visited Nagada village 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. During that time, the team observed that  though the Govt. had put some effort, it  was far from satisfaction.  However a Monitoring Report  was presented  to State Govt. and RDC  to take further steps   to save tribal children from malnutrition  and huger. 

Visit of Fact-Finding Team
A 4-member Fact-finding Team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha  had  visited Nagada village, habitation of Juang tribes ( Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group)  on 17.2.17   with the objective  to assess the  socio-economic condition of Juang Tribes, health condition and nutritional standard  of the children, status of  development work, changes, if any in the life of the people after intervention of the Govt. etc. The Team members were Pradip Pradhan, Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi, Sri Kalanadi Mallik, Dalit Activist, Debendra  Rout, local volunteer. Earlier, the road to Nagada was rocky and inaccessible. But during visit of the team, there is little bit improvement in the   communication to the village due  to  construction  of new road  by the Govt.    However, The Team takes two hours to reach Nagada village.  The Team members  visited Tala Nagada, Majhi Nagada, Upara Nagada, met  villagers,  interacted  with women,  inspected  Aganwadi Centre and health condition of the children,   assessed  impact of the Govt. programme, their food security situation  etc.

 Findings of the Team

A.     Malnutrition – Still looms large
The public outcry following death of 23 Juang children in Nagada due to malnutrition forced   the State Govt. to intervene in order to check malnutrition among Juang children and ensure food security to the tribals  in the month of August , 2016.   The intervention of the Govt. and private  agencies to address the problem of the people  includes  opening special  health  camp in Nagada village,  distribution of ‘Energy Dense Nutrient Rich Food’ to the children, special treatment of  malnourished  children  by medical staff,  engagement of  number of ICDS officials  to monitor health and nutritional status of the children, conducting awareness programme on health etc.  Malnutrition was found checked and health condition of the children improved during that time.  Before going to Nagada, the fact-finding Team has pre-conceived the idea of looking at nutritional status of the children which was area of concern for the State Govt.  But during   visit, the Team members noticed a number of malnourished children in the village.  The team members enquired to know from the villagers about food and other support service given to the children to increase their nutritional status. Sukei Pradhan, one of the women interviewed who was holding her malnourished   child said that her child was getting 8 egg and two packet of  Chhatua per month through  Anganwadi Centre.  If the children are receiving their entitlements under ICDS programme, then why the children are still malnourished.   Team members also thought of why the child is still malnourished, if THR (Take Home Ration) is properly  provided to him.  When enquired about consumption of food by them in their home, Sukei said that they were taking just rice and salt as food. Due to lack of food, she could not provide required nutritious food to her child.  So it was observed that supply of the food by Anganawadi centre is not enough to increase nutritional standard of the children in Nagada village.  While visiting households, the team members noticed six children suffering from acute malnutrition.   Similarly, the Team members also met Goura Pradhan, aged around 70 and asked him about food consumed by them. He said that they were consuming only rice ad salt, as they do not have anything to eat. Due to lack of employment and income, the tribals could not   take required food.  Supply of 35 kg rice under TPDS is no doubt a boon for them.  Somehow, they manage to live with only rice and salt and occasionally vegetable which is considered as their staple food.  As the parents could not take good nutritious food, the children will obviously suffer from malnutrition.   

While interviewing with CDPO, Sukinda block, she said that presently  there are four each severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) in Nagada village. Responding query about   steps taken for special treatment of malnourished children, she said that the parents had been advised to get their children admitted in NRC (Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre), they were   unwilling to bring their children to NRC.  

2. Functioning of Aganwadi Centre
 The State Govt. has opened two Anganwadi centre in Uppar Nagada and Tala Nagada. The Team members   visited both the centres and found that it was running in their houses.  No infrastructure has been developed for running Aganwadi Centre in both hamlets. Two Anganwadi Worker-cum-helpers namely Laxmi Pradhan and Kamala Pradhan have been appointed to prepare   cooked food and feed to the enrolled children in the centre and distribute THR (egg and chhatua).  The activity of the Aganwadi centre is confined to only providing food to the children.   Anganwadi Worker staying in   Deogaon village occasionally visits for monitoring of the centre in a month. No pre-school education is provided to the children.    The Team did not find any complaint from the parents about quality of food served to the children.

3. Problem of food security- Still ignored by the authority
Food insecurity is the biggest problem for the villagers of Nagada. The tribals use to remain half-fed or in hunger and face acute food scarcity due to lack of employment and income.  During first visit of the fact-finding team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha in July 2016, it was observed by the team that they used to consume rice, salt and jungle leaves as food item. Vegetables hardly find in their food menu. The Team was of the view that unless food insecurity of the tribals is addressed, malnutrition cannot be checked. While submitting report to the Govt.,  the team has made  recommendation to  take steps to ensure food security of the people  through income generation activity, employment generation,   promotion of agriculture  and horticulture,  cultivation of vegetables, allotment of land to them, supply of subsidised or free food items atleast for one year  etc.  At the primary stage, the State Govt. has distributed rice, dal, oil to each household free of cost from august 2016.  It continued for two months and closed. All the households have been allotted ration card under Antodaya Anna Yojana and receiving 35 kg rice per month.  No agriculture promotion activity has been undertaken by Govt.  in the village.  The Team did not find any income generation activity for the people in the village. Rather Goura Pradhan complained that   many labourers who had worked in   construction of road three months back, have not been paid  of their wages till yet. There is absolutely no income generation activity undertaken by the Govt. in order to provide employment to them.  

4. Distribution of Forest Patta- Patta with no land
As per Forest Rights Act 2006, each tribal family residing in and around of the forest area   and  depending on forest for livelihood is entitled to get forest land. Juang tribes, PTG of Nagada village living in forest areas for decades together   deserve to get the forest patta land. But  the State Govt.  had not allotted  any forest land Patta to the families in the village.  After the child death issue cropped up and allegations made against Govt., the district administration took steps  to distribute forest land patta  to the families. During visit, the team came across the people holding  forest land patta.  But they do not have idea about land which has been allotted to them. Neither the Forest officials nor Revenue officials have demarcated and identified the land meant for them. They are holding patta without  owing any land.   

5.   Drinking Water- Still  problem persists  
While on the way to Nagada, the team came across a dug-well at Naliadhaba  which  has been repaired and looks good.   But while testing water, it was found giving very bad smell. On query about use of water, the villagers said that they were not using dug-well water for drinking purpose.  Similarly, in Nagada village, the team across a number of pipes spread over the village for supply of water to the Households but found defunct.  The people are  still depending on stream water for drinking purpose.   So, tall claim of the State Govt. supplying drinking water to Nagada village    was found false.

6.  Status of Primary School- Still not functional
 On the way to Tala Nagada, the Team members met Sushant Satapathy, Assistant Block Education Officer (ABEO), Gobardhan Pradhan, ABEO and Chandramani Mohanta, Cluster Resource Centre Coordinator (CRCC) who had come to monitor the function of Alternate Primary school opened in the village. Responding query about status of primary school, they said that total no. of 79 out of 99 children have been enrolled in the school.  Two teachers Dillip Dandapath and Jaganath Tudu have been appointed in the school. The school is running in temporary shelter. Though six months have passed, the authority has not been able to construct permanent school building in the village. As reported by the villagers, the teachers are not regular in attending  the school.  The school is not full-fledged  school but alternate primary school  being operated under Primary School, Deogaon.

7. Road connectivity- Why high profile road in Nagada?
Absence of road connectivity to Nagada was biggest   problem for which the Govt. officials and people’s representative hardly visit this village. When the issue of malnutrition was raised, the Govt. officials, media and Civil Society organisations face   a lot of difficulties to go to Nagada.  At the primary stage, there was demand to ensure road connectivity to the village at the earliest.  During visit, the Team inspected   on-going construction of road leading from Deogaon to Nagada.  Two lane  high profile road with sanctioned amount of Rs. 15 crores  is being  constructed  to Nagada  by a private Hyderabad-based company  Hygriba Construction Private limited . Million-dollar question is raised why such a huge fund has been sanctioned   for construction of road to a particular village which is never shown in any tribal area of the state.  There is apprehension that in the name of road connectivity to Nagada ,   this road is constructed  in the interest of Mining  companies in order to facilitate mining operation  in this area.  Similarly,   Around 12 lakh rupees have been spent   for road connectivity from Upara Nagada to Majhi Nagada and Tala Nagada.  During interaction with the villagers, the Team members received allegation of denial of wage to the villagers who have worked   as labourer in construction of road work.

8. Kerosene Ghotala
While inspecting six ration cards, the team members found that   each family has been given 3 to 5 litre of kerosene per month since September,  2016.  On query about receipt of kerosene, the  villagers  like Manguli Pradhan  said  that due to financial crisis, they could not purchase kerosene.   The Team is of the view that the dealer has misappropriated the kerosene by manipulating the ration card.  As per rough calculation, around Rs. 50,000.00 has been misappropriated by dealer in the name of distribution of kerosene to the HHs within period of six months.

Analysis and Recommendations
A.   It is fact that food insecurity leads to malnutrition and chronic hunger which resulted in starvation death. Due to abject poverty,  Juang people  of Nagada village continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition. That’s why most of the children were found malnourished in July, 2016 and died due to malnutrition. The primary task of the Govt.  was to address  issue of malnutrition and ensure food security  of the tribals which was demanded  by Civil Society Groups and media. To check malnutrition, the State Govt. took numerous steps starting from special treatment to providing nutritious food to the children. No doubt, the number of malnourished children got reduced.   To ensure food security of the tribals, the State Govt. provided free of cost required quantity of rice, dal, Chuda, Guda etc.  to each family  for two months. Now it is closed.  During visit of the team, on query of food consumed by them, they said that rice, salt and jungle leaves are only food item in their food basket.   Due to lack of income, they do not have purchasing power to purchase any vegetables   or other items for consumption.  It shows that food insecurity still looms large. So in view of this prevailing  situation,  the team recommends to State Govt. to undertake  income generation activity  through promotion of agriculture  and horticulture programme  and employment generation through NREGA to ensure  food security of the tribals. Goatery, poultry and  other  agriculture-based  activity  should be taken up  to ensure income  of the villagers.

B.    As the village still witnessed number of children suffering from malnutrition,  the team recommends  to Govt. to  provide special nutritious food barring THR provided under ICDS i order to increase nutritious standard of the people.

C.     Though huge money has been spent, the villagers are not getting safe drinking water.  The concerned Govt. agency should be directed to ensure it and disciplinary action should be taken against the officials responsible for it.    

D.   Infrastructure should be developed for running Anganwadi Centre and Primary school in the village.

E.    Forest land allotted to the people should be identified and demarcated at the earliest and physically handed over to the people. It is recommended that each Household should be allotted atleast five acres of land for their livelihood.

F.    Huge quantity of kerosene has been misappropriated by manipulating ration card of the villagers.  It should be enquired   and money to be recovered from dealer and block officials.

Signature of Team Members

Pradip Pradhan                                                                                 Sanjukta Panigrahi
State Convener                                                                                 Social Activist and member
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha                                               Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
M-9937843482                                                                   M- 9238598756

Kalandi Mallik                                                                                   Debendra Rout
District Convener                                                                            Social Activist
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha                                               M-7381939027

M- 9938618390                                  

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