World Bank aims to improve child nutrition in India
The World Bank approved a US$106 million (£66 million) loan to improve the nutritional outcomes for children less than six years of age in India
The programme will focus on improving services for pregnant/lactating women as well as for children less than three years of age. The first phase of the Project will be implemented over a three-year period, to be followed by a four-year second phase.
India has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. One-third of the children are born with low birth-weight and 43% of children under five are underweight. In addition, according to World Bank estimates, 48% are stunted, 20% are wasted, 70% are anemic, and 57% are vitamin A deficient.
India has initiated a flagship Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program on malnutrition that focuses food-based interventions and on children 3-6 years of age. However, research shows that exposure to repeated infections, inadequate utilization of health services, poor sanitation, and inappropriate child feeding/caring practices, especially during pregnancy and in the first two years of life, are among the key contributors to malnutrition.
The Indian government is introducing new approaches to enhance the focus on pregnant/nursing mothers and children under three as it undertakes a comprehensive review of the ICDS programme which will be more targeted towards regions that have high occurence of malnutrition.
Malnutrition during the first few years of a child’s life can have far-reaching effects. Undernourished children have higher rates of mortality and lower cognitive skills. Consequently they are more likely to drop out of school and are less productive later in life. Undernourishment can begin before a child is even born, with the critical period continuing until they turn two.
This Project will help the government’s efforts at strengthening its human resource policies, management information system, capacity building system, behaviour change approaches and engagement with communities within the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Program. The main aim, however, is to reach all children in the first thousand days of their life with interventions proven to improve nutrition.
Malnutrition during the first few years of a child’s life can have far-reaching effects. Undernourished children have higher rates of mortality and lower cognitive skills; they are more likely to drop out of school and are less productive later in life. Undernourishment can begin before a child is even born, with the critical period continuing until she turns two,” said Onno Rûhl, World Bank Country Director for India.
“This Project will support the government’s efforts in building the necessary institutional capacity and systems needed to improve nutrition for expecting mothers and their children,” he added.