Malnutrition is Circumvented in Pre-Schoolers

Date: August 20, 2014 Category:

Nutritional Supplementation Program

Project Leader: Joanna Drew
In Partnership with Sodhana Charitable Trust

Locality and Target Population
The recipients are children in the age group of 3 to 5 years coming from economically poor rural families in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts in Andhra Pradesh. These children occupy themselves by either playing in dirt tagging along to worksites with their mothers who perform manual labor. Rice boiled to a liquid state is the food staple for these children, which has led to malnutrition among this age group.

Method
We started providing nutritional support in the form of two eggs per week to each child in 24 pre-school centers, which support on average 25 children per center.

Impact
IDS provides funding to purchase eggs for nutritional supplementation.  The average cost is $6 per child per year. We compute the BMI index for each child and then aggregate by gender and hamlet. BMI index below -1.0 is an indicator of malnutrition, whereas -2.0 is severe and -3.0 is acute. Within six months, all hamlets showed evidence of reduced malnutrition rates.

BMI 1

BMI 2

Learning
It is important to conduct a ground assessment of children’s eating patterns. Assessment includes door-to-door family visitation during breakfast, lunch, and dinner times and examination of food and protein items available for consumption. Since many of the schools are in agrarian communities, it is valuable to identify whether grain, milk, and fish products consumed at home or only taken to market for sale.

A preliminary pilot intervention is necessary and beneficial to allow staff to gain experience and develop modalities of operation that can be shared with other staff members as the project grows in scale. Longitudinal and cross-sectional data needs to be collected to detect patterns. Development of human resources is critical for the long-term survival of the organization.

We would like to explore other forms of nutritional support including the Hyderabad Mix (Aswar, Hewarkar and Kalpana, 2009), which has been found to be quite effective in lowering the malnutrition rate. This could be beneficial for both intra- and inter-project comparison.

Propagation and Growth
At the start of the project, we recorded the height and weight of approximately 550 children and computed the BMI z-scores. Within six months a total of 610 children’s BMI z-scores were recorded. Over this period of time, the BMI z-scores moved closer to the target mean of zero.  With the upcoming school year, we expect provide nutritional supplements to 250 additional children.

To learn more about this project, go to Nutritional Supplementation Program.

Aswar N.R, Hewarkar and Kalpana M.K, A study to assess the effectiveness of Hyderabad Mix in improving the weight of children with mild malnutrition, Journal of National Institute of Nutrition. 2009 40(1): 345-49.