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India

Lakshman and Tara

In Rajahstan state in India thousands of children have been targeted in a effort by the Rajahstan government and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to give malnourished children a chance in life. Some of the children who have experienced the positive impact are Lakshman and his sister Tara.

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Agriculture & Food production
Project
Give-a-Day - Fighting malnutrition
Location
India
Budget
18,000,000 DKK
Type
Grant
Partner
GAIN
Period
Aug 2015 Aug 2018

GIVE-A-DAY helps malnourished Indian children fill their tummies

A re-routing of around 15% of GIVE-A-DAY funds to assist the government of Rajasthan in its fight against malnutrition has paid dividends for 5,000 children. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) helped the government implement the pilot phase of the project – and it is now being rolled out across the state.

It is not an easy burden for a girl less than 10 years old to carry. But Tara used to carry her 18 months old younger brother, Lakshman, around the small village, Jogiyon ka Guda, in Western Rajahstan every day asking for handouts. Their father is struggling with alcohol abuse and the mother has to deal with depression so if Lakshman were to eat the responsibility was Tara’s. In early 2016 Lakshman were enrolled in the ‘Positive and Optimum Care of Children through a Social Household Approach for Nutrition’ (POSHAN) initiative. 



GIVE-A-DAY funds 50% of pilot project targeting 10,000 malnourished children

POSHAN is a program led by the Government of Rajahstan and the National Health Mission and it is supported by GAIN, UNICEF and Action Contre la Faim (ACF).

It is the first government-led programme for the treatment of acutely malnourished children – and the pilot phase which targeted 10,000 children was funded in part (50%) by BESTSELLER and the GIVE-A-DAY donation that GAIN received in 2015.

   

 

For Lakshman the POSHAN initiative has meant that life has improved. Instead of continued stunted growth, which not only affects physical growth but also the memory, the ability to learn and general mental development, Lakshman is now on a new path. He is a smiling two year old with chubby cheeks who is starting to get more mobile, explains Tara with a beaming smile "Lakshman has started taking a few steps and I hope he quickly starts walking. He is becoming heavy for me to carry around now."    

And her brother is indeed getting heavier. When Lakshman was first weighed in early January 2016 he weighed 3.8 kg – at the end of February the same year he weighed 5.9 kg. And those are not the only numbers testifying to the improvement in nutrition and health. The mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC) is used as an indicator for malnutrition where anything below 12.5 cm is considered malnourished. Lakshman’s MUAC was 9.5 cm when he first came in – two months later it was 12.2 cm.



 Lakshman has started taking a few steps and I hope he quickly starts walking. He is becoming heavy for me to carry around now. 

Lakshman was one of seven children in the village who were identified as severely malnourished. They received deworming and antibiotics and a weekly dose of a therapeutic food called ‘Energy Dense Nutrient Rich Food’ for between eight and 12 weeks. Tara – who was identified as the primary caretaker of her younger brother – received training on hygiene and caregiving at home and is given extra support by staff at the POSHAN nutrition centre.

Across Rajahstan state almost 10,000 children have recovered from malnutrition – and the experiences from the first phase are so promising that POSHAN will continue and be scaled up. It is estimated that close to 100,000 children will be reached through the next phases.

More food coming to fill empty tummies
In addition to POSHAN the GIVE-A-DAY funds also support the establishment of basic production facilities of nutritious food used to prevent children such as Lakshman becoming malnourished.
 Malnutrition in the first 1,000 days (from conception to two years of life) can have an irreversible impact on physical and cognitive growth and health later in life. This is why the bulk of the GIVE-A-DAY funds (85%) are focused on prevention of malnutrition during this critical window of opportunity. 

You can read more about the POSHAN Community Managed Acute Malnutrition program on GAIN's website