Childhood malnutrition is devastating in India and it severely affects the population’s health. Over 50% of the children under the age of 5 suffer from stunted growth (61 million children currently affected as per one estimate).
The prevalence of childhood anemia is also alarmingly high and adolescent girls often face the harshest consequences. Chronic malnutrition is particularly challenging for females due to their higher dietary needs and lower access to food at three critical life stages (pregnancy, birth to two years, and adolescence).
There are many barriers to proper nutrition for young women and children in India including economic difficulties, preferential feeding practices, little knowledge of dietary demands, lack of access to a variety of food stuffs, and continual infections.
The state of Uttarakhand, where Himalayan Naari operates, has higher rates of malnutrition than that of India as a whole.
Given these facts, it is critical to be sure that the Naari women and their children, as well as the rest of the community, have a healthy diet. This year, the Himalayan Education Foundation, Himalayan Naari and Himalayan Inter College (HIC) are collaborating to assess the nutritional status and access to healthy food items in the community of Chaukori.
The women of Naari, their pre-school kids and all 900 children from the Himalaya Inter College will be assessed. Once this study is completed and barriers to proper nutrition are identified, community interventions, educational programs and strategies to increase access to necessary foods will be developed.
This assessment will be possible thanks to a partnership with the new student organization Healthy HIC. Their mission is to strengthen the health and well-being of their own community. The student members will collaborate with Himalaya Inter College (HIC), and two project coordinators from the Himalayan Education Foundation in order to work towards improving the health of all students and their families.
During this project the members of Healthy HIC will develop data collection and analysis skills. Together they will learn about nutrition and its importance in lifelong development, help conduct the nutritional assessments, and then develop and implement education programs at HIC for their fellow students. Through their participation in this program, these students will be exposed to careers in health, nutrition, biology, medicine and research.