The project has been taken up in 2 regions Indian Himalayas, one in Eastern (Darjeeling district of West Bengal) another is in Western Himalayas (Ranikhet Districts on Uttarakhand). The activities are implemented by the local partner of Welthungerhilfe - Lok Chetana Manch. Here is the progress of 2019 in short.
Amongst RSPs, 64 RSPs and 15 project associates has been registered in MAAN so far. The popularization effort of MAAN platform and the website was done mostly through demonstration during the village meetings, F2Fs by the field workers. This was also promoted through FB account of Welthungerhilfe. But movement in MAAN has not been very satisfactory – the potential reasons could be not so conversant with the sch technical web-based platform and English being the language of interaction. However, use of web as a learning space has been taken in consecutive F2Fs.
Capacity Development Program (CDP)
A total of 5 F2F sessions of Capacity Development program has been conducted with 104 RSPs in 4 batches. One batch has gone through the 2nd F2F as well. Due to lack of internet connectivity and remoteness, the follow up meetings were mostly physical. The follow ups were to discuss about the progress of Micro Interventions taken up by the RSPs. RSPs conducted local meetings linked to the families (on an average 50 families per RSP) in the village on nutrition and food habits in presence of the Field Coordinators initially. The plan for Micro Interventions were also very often discussed in those meetings. MDDS were carried out with the group members present in the meetings. The value of the local crops they are growing was also part of discussions.
Micro Intervention (MI)
56 RSPs have started their Micro Interventions so far. In Darjeeling, the Mis include vermicompost unit, awareness on Menstrual health and hygiene, setting up of nursery to grow seedlings and vegetables, waste management and reintroduction of indigenous seed varieties. In Uttarakhand, 13 RSPs have stated poultry of local breed, 29 have started kitchen garden, 1 on menstrual halth and 1 on reviving traditional recipes. The MIs will cover approximately 2200 households.
Gram Panchayat (The lowest administrative unit comprises on 5 to 15 villages) is the major stakeholder involved in the process of CDP and MI. Animal Husbandry, Agriculture Department and Horticulture Department were contacted for potential linkage with the MIs. The list of the trained RSPs was shared with relevant departments along with the briefing about the program. The major request was done to agriculture department to support farmers for crop protection which was major demand from RSPs. The liason with these line departments were mostly to leverage government support for MI, and include RSPs in the government training programme. Ranikhet Sahakarita Samiti also organised training in two villages after our RSPs requested in two villages on Diary Development in December 2019.
Iron deficiency in women is the major issue, along with low birth weight across the targeted area. During FGDs, the issue of dietary habit changes, particularly among children has been mentioned frequently. Children are attracted towards fast food and packaged food.
The MDDS shows an average result of 5.05, but with a range of 2~8. The distribution of score according to the number of house hold is following. Which clearly shows that majority of household (603 out of 853 households) are within the range of 2 to 5, and maximum number (370) is having the score 5.
But if we go deeper into to, the result shows following variation within different food groups.
Apart from starchy staple, beans and peas, dairy and green leafy vegetable – none of the food groups are consumed regularly (Graph above).
Whereas less than 20% households are growing nuts and seeds, meat, egg, yellow/orange/red vegetables and other vegetables. Which corroborates the poor scoring in these food groups. Scoring of other vegetables consumption is better as people have tendency to buy off season vegetables. A correlation between consumption and agriculture can also be established from the following graph, which shows household which has higher production score has higher Diet Diversity Score.
In Uttarakhand, it has come quite sharply that rather than using Village Development Funds only for infrastructure development, the local government should also think for using it for agriculture improvement. In Darjeeling, the focus of advocacy was decided to be the dietary diversity improvement in mid-day meal of schools.
As National advocacy issue, Welthungerhilfe is active on promoting multisectoral approach to nutrition by linking nutrition with Agriculture, Natural resource management and WASH.
Networking and collaboration
Effectiveness, reach and impacts are made manifold through Platforms, Networks and Partnerships. Our intervention experiences are transferred to policy landscapes as well as bring solidarity across the Indian Himalayan Region through the Integrated Mountain Initiative (https://www.mountaininitiative.in/) a platform of elected, bureaucrats and civil societies advocating for mountain sensitive policies. Our RSP institute Prerna is the local chapter of IMI. Prerna is also linked with Zero Waste Himalaya, a pan Himalayan platform of individuals and organisations promoting principles of zero waste and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA- http://www.no-burn.org/).
In Uttarakhand, our RSP institute Lok Chetana is linked with Himalayan Action and Research Centre and INHERE. For market linkages for surplus Finger millet, garlic, turmeric, soyabean and horse gram theye are in touch with local marketing bodies call MASI and GRASS.