National conclave in state capital on how to nourish tribal children

Bhubaneswar: A national conclave would be held here next month to work out strategies for properly nourishing tribal children who suffer from chronic under-nutrition.

The two-day conclave, being organised by Union Tribal Affairs Ministry, Government of Odisha and UNICEF from January 15, would provide a platform for identifying gaps and finding innovative solutions to under-nutrition, Yumi Bae, Chief of UNICEF field office in Odisha, said.

“The focus is to collectively identify gaps and good practices and prepare a roadmap for improving access of tribal children to food, nutrition, health and sanitation that would improve their nutritional status,” she told reporters.

Around 150 delegates comprising experts, government officials, practitioners and field workers from the nine Schedule V states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhittisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan would attend the meet.

The need to organise the conclave was felt in view of high level of chronic under nutrition or stunting which contributes to one-third of under-five child deaths, UNICEF officials said citing a study.

The participants would identify implementation challenges in the National Tribal Policy and ensure better utilisation of Tribal Sub Plan budgets, Bae said.

Core areas of discussion would be household food and livelihood security, Integrated Child Development Services, health outreach and referral, drinking water and sanitation, plans and budgets for improving service delivery in tribal areas and engagement of civil society including academic institution for improving service uptake, she said.

According to National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06), India has the highest number of stunted children globally and most of them are from tribal communities.

The conclave would find ways to ensure that the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) becomes an effective and dynamic tool to mobilise resources for tribal children’s needs in food, nutrition and other developmental requirements, she said.

Participants would also discuss how to strengthen Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) for inter-sectoral coordination and monitoring of services in tribal areas.