Malnutrition is a major contributor to the disease burden in India, with child and maternal undernutrition leading to low birth weight, stunting, and anemia. To address these, under the support of the Department of Women and Child Development, the Government of Rajasthan, Cargill, in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), have launched a program to improve nutrition status in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
This program aims to address nutrition intake in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life starting at conception through two years after birth, shaping a child’s early development. It will improve the nutritional quality of Take-Home Ration (THR) served to children, pregnant and lactating mothers through collaboration with Anganwadi centers (AWCs). The program will also deploy social behavior change communications to drive nutritional awareness and nutrition seeking behavior.
Nutrition is central to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 development agenda. Addressing nutrition issues, especially among the most vulnerable population, has remained a key priority and one of the most complex challenges around the world. The Government of Rajasthan has been focused on improving the state’s nutrition indicators and promoting nutrition and health programs. This program will be implemented under the support of the Department of Women & Child Development, Government of Rajasthan, and is in alignment with the Government of India’s National Nutrition Strategy and the POSHAN Abhiyan.
Key program outcomes include:
- Improve Nutritional awareness: Program will work towards improving knowledge, attitudes, and practices in the community for preventing malnutrition among children, adolescent girls, and women through sensitization and awareness sessions. The program will also drive social behavior change communication through mass media and advocacy campaigns to drive awareness amongst caregivers and families.
- Nutritious food via Take-Home Ration (THR): Engage with Women Self-Help Groups to produce nutritionally appropriate THR by setting up a standardized production unit run by trained women following quality and nutrition guidelines.
- Public-Private collaboration: This includes identifying gaps in the accessibility and availability of nutritional food, mobilizing relevant state-level stakeholders, and implementing collaborative approaches and models for private sector participation for the sustenance of the intervention beyond the project period.
Commenting on the partnership, Simon George, President, Cargill India, said, “The need to address nutritional challenges through food systems remains critical globally. Nutrition has been a key focus for us. Cargill remains committed to contributing towards food and nutritional security by providing consumers and the community with the nutritious food they need to lead healthier lives. This program resonates with Cargill’s purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. We are positive that this partnership will advance replicable and demonstrable models of public and private collaboration to improve nutrition levels amongst vulnerable communities.
“WFP is honoured to collaborate with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Rajasthan, and Cargill for this project. We know that the take-home rations distributed through the Integrated Child Development Centers (ICDS) to young children and pregnant/lactating women are a game-changer in India’s quest to prevent malnutrition. But it is also important to ensure nutritionally appropriate composition of the take-home rations, quality control, and effective production, creating demand through better packaging and uptake through social behaviour change communication,” said Bishow Parajuli, India Representative and Country Director, WFP in India.
“The project entails an innovative partnership, leveraging our collective experience to design a replicable pilot to address nutritional challenges in a district. In addition to strengthening state-level institutions and mechanisms, it highlights the need for community-driven business models and market linkages for achieving the objectives of the Poshan Abhiyan,” added Rijit Sengupta, CEO, Centre for Responsible Business.