Fiinovation Reviews India’s Migration and Malnutrition Problems

The rising disparity among the people of India is a stark reminder that growth after the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation reforms of 1991 has not been inclusive. Although, the country developed significantly, yet the development ripples have not reached the remote villages. The initial plan of focusing on the service sector to reduce the dependency of the Indian GDP on the primary sector (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, etc.) paid off well, but didn’t solve the problem of the rural population which is nearly 70 per cent of the total Indian population.

As the primary sector didn’t receive as much investments, there wasn’t much growth to improve the standard of living of the rural population. The problems associated with agriculture and allied sector ensured that millions had to migrate to the urban areas for employment opportunities. Migration is not a recent phenomenon, rather the pace of it has increased in recent times due to widespread distress in the rural areas. As per the Census 2011, there were about 45.36 crore migrants. In fact last year 2.06 crore people migrated looking for employment opportunities and education.

It is understandable that the impact of migration is one the entire family and it’s the children who suffer immensely. It has been observed that the rapid development which ensured India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world is not helping to curb poverty and malnutrition. As per the global hunger index, India ranks abysmal 97 out of 118 countries which much worse that its neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Fiinovation reviews that about 38 per cent children living in India are stunted or too short for their age. There seems to be a link between growing urbanisation and increase in malnutrition as it has been observed that significant proportion of children living in urban areas are stunted.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that 90 crore people will be added as urban residents in just three countries (China, India and Nigeria) by 2050. It seems that there is a paradigm shift of the burden of malnutrition from rural areas to urban areas, especially due to persistent child undernutrition. Fiinovation reviews that the problem of malnutrition is evident amongst the 6.5 crore slum dwellers in the country. Hence, the reason behind urban poverty and malnutrition is definitely India’s incapability to develop the rural areas while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

The road ahead will not be easy as the government plans to double the farmers’ income by 2022. Currently, there is very less industrial development in the rural areas. Agriculture in India is a seasonal activity with majority of the regions being mono-cropic, especially due to lack of irrigation facilities and dependency on the monsoon. Therefore, it is important to create livelihood opportunities and promote healthy lifestyle amongst the rural population. If the migrant population start finding employment opportunities in their inhabited regions, it will reduce migration, poverty and malnutrition significantly.

Hence, Fiinovation urges the government to implement policies which promote growth of the rural economy. Efforts to increase the farmers’ income will definitely pay huge dividends for the country. The impact of this will also be visible on the global hunger index and help the country eliminate extreme poverty as per the Sustainable Development Goals. However, this massive task cannot be done only by the government and the role of the private sector will be significant in providing resources for the development of rural infrastructure. The businesses should also contribute towards betterment of the farming community and the people residing in the rural areas through their corporate social responsibility funds. Investments in the agriculture sector by the businesses supported by agriculture credit from the government will significantly boost the primary sector thereby reducing the burden of the rural households.

Let us hope that the next two decades India grows inclusively and sustainably becoming one of the largest economies of the world with a higher human development index ranking.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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Fiinovation Observes – WORLD TOILET DAY

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Every year, 19th November is recognised as the “World Toilet Day” across the globe. The day is celebrated to spread awareness about the issues related to sanitation and eradicate taboos related to health and hygiene. The United Nations passed a resolution in July 2013, recognising World Toilet Day as an official International Day for drawing the world’s attention on the current sanitation crisis. On this day, several campaigns are run worldwide on educating the world about benefits of sanitation, health, and hygiene. This year the World Toilet Day is based on the theme, “Toilets and Jobs”.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that around 2.5 billion (about 1 out of 3) people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and around 1 billion of them still practice open defecation. The forced unhealthy sanitation habits lead to chronic diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, soil-transmitted heminthiasis and schisosomiasis. It is estimated that around 58% of the diarrhea cases are caused due to poor sanitation, poor hand-washing and lack of hygiene. In 2013 alone, around 340,000 children under 5 years of age have succumbed to death due to unhealthy sanitation habits. Not only this, open defecation is also an infringement of privacy and dignity of young girls and women bringing them embarrassment and fear exposing them to sexual assault, violence, harassment and psychological trauma. However, this menace can be put to end by providing them access to toilets and basic sanitation facilities.

In India alone, around 55% of people out of 1.2 billion people have no access to toilets mostly comprising the people living in urban slums and rural areas. The central government has taken the uphill task of creating an open defecation free country by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. They have pledged to construct 12 million toilets in rural India at the cost of Rs. 1.96 lakh crore. In his speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in open? Poor womenfolk of the village wait for the night; until darkness descends, they can’t go out to defecate. What bodily torture they must be feeling, how many diseases that act might engender. Can’t we just make arrangements for toilets for the dignity of our mothers and sisters?”

Deriving inspiration from the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission, many states in India have done commendable work in the field of sanitation. In a press note released by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin, around 15.04 lakh toilets have been built under the MNREGA scheme across rural India. Under this mission, 446 percent increase in construction toilet work has been observed. One lakh villages have been targetted under 35 districts to declare them as open defecation free. Sikkim has been declared as the first open defacation free state followed by Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

Even the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been actively working towards providing people safe access to toilets and end open defecation in the world. The Government of India and World Bank has inked a $1.5 billion loan agreement for supporting the nation’s sanitation initiatives. Additionally, the World Bank will also extend technical assistance of $25 million to capacitate selected states in implementing community-led behavioral change programmes, to end the toilet related taboos and spread awareness about the regular usage of toilets by rural households.

“Sustainable development goal 6 calls on the international community to ensure access to toilets by 2030. Delivering on this basic human right — the right to water and sanitation — is good for people, business and the economy.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

World Health Day -Vector Borne Diseases particularly Malaria

Health and happiness designate  distinct life experiences, whose relationship is neither mutually inclusive nor exclusive in nature. Failure to adhere to health needs cause disturbance in happiness. However minimal may be the health need or problem it may cause friction in the happiness quotient. World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Conversely the definition of health ‘a state of complete physical mental and social well-being’ corresponds not only to the well being of the individual but also to happiness levels. To attain this echelon of health with happiness WHO earmarked 7th April as International World Health Day, which draws attention globally towards specific health issues existing and percolating in the system.

Past few decades have  witnessed  certain initiatives at various National & International health forums, which were otherwise never given much importance. Few of these diverse range of health concerns included Mental health which initiated and lead to the commencement of the National Mental Health Program in India(NRHM 2013).

This years WHO theme is Vector Borne Diseases- particularly Malaria. According to the WHO epidemiology report of 2013 there were  approx. 207 million cases of malaria and an estimate of 627,000 malarial deaths reported.  This is indicative of the fact that despite considerable advances in terms of prevention & control measures, there is still lot to be achieved in order to reduce and control the spread of the disease.

Other Vector Borne diseases also show an alarming rise in the incidence rates but malaria continues to constitutes the major section). Trends show a geographical change in the disease spread is moving beyond traditional boundaries, thereby calling for action that is not restricted to specific countries. Other vectors such as snails, tapeworms act as a carrier of virulent viruses, bacteria and protozoan which cause illness together with the mortality.

According to The Lancet  report on 20th November 2010 malaria causes 205,000 malaria deaths per year in India before 70 years of age (55,000 in early childhood, 30,000 at ages 5—14 years, 120,000 at ages 15—69 years) with a 1·8% cumulative probability of death from malaria before age 70 years. The report also states that 90 per cent of these deaths are recorded in rural areas, of which 86 per cent occur at home without any medical attention. These alarmingly high figures due to the difficulties in controlling and eradicating malaria led to renaming of the National Malaria Eradication Programme in India in 2000 as National Anti Malaria Programme.

It has also been found that Malaria not only comes as a health problem but also encapsulates other social and economic burdens. It has been found to affect the annual economic growth in the countries with high malaria transmission is lower than countries without malaria. According to studies on economic evaluation & Malaria. They highlight how countries that have eliminated malaria in the past half century have all been either subtropical or islands. These countries’ economic growth in the 5 years after eliminating malaria has usually been substantially higher than growth in the neighboring countries.

It might be thought that malaria has a large impact in poor countries because of its interaction with malnutrition. Malaria, along with other childhood infectious diseases, has been found to exacerbate malnutrition. Thus, overall adding to the environmental entropy disturbance and causing a devastating effect on the individual along with family and finally affecting the nation.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the threat posed by vectors and vector-borne diseases and to stimulate families and communities to take action to protect themselves. The core element of the campaign is to provide communities with information. Taking this forward, Fiinovation has been associated with this campaign. The team at Fiinovation is working towards raising the levels of awareness in community through various advocacy initiatives that are directed towards reducing the spread of the diseases.

By: Dr Shilpa Jain

Fiinovation

Better protection from vector-borne diseases

Better protection from vector-borne diseases