Dismal performance by India in GHI 2022 – Project MOGRA deals with eliminating Hunger in Migrant Children
Dr Rajeev Nagpal / Abhiram rao / Dr Pranav / Shailesh Gupta
I Light Global is a non-profit supporting rights of children across the world with particular focus on Migrant children. Project Mogra – Meals of Gratitude was started in Year 2021 after the GHI index for India was reported at 101. Let’s try to understand the problem of hunger and some solutions created .
Migrants are the people who move from one place of residence to another for better opportunities like education, employment, finance but also due to calamities like crop failure or natural disasters and wars.This positively impacts them by giving better quality of life, economic growth and education. But the negatives sometimes outweigh the positives, which are pressure on resources in urban areas and they have no option but to live in slum areas or shanty homes. The children are mostly affected with this migration leading to the increase in cases of pediatric malnutrition, infections, illiteracy , mental health challenges to name a few. Hunger is a major issue in the migrant population and has been in focus since covid -19 outbreak.How do we measure hunger ?
Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators: Undernourishment, Child stunting, Child wasting, Child mortality. India ranks 107th out of 121 countries with data collected for 2022 GHI index. With a score of 29.1, India has a level of hunger that is serious.
Understanding the Data
Data of 150 migrant children was collected by the volunteers at grassroot level.Poverty , working parents, mother’s education and lack of resources were some of the common reasons for the hunger issue. More than 75% parents of these children earn less than 10,000 rupee a month which is less than $120 a month. The World bank defines an extreme poverty line of $2.15 per person per day (1). If the average family size is 4, then families need more than $266 per month. But these families are surviving in less than half of the extreme poverty line as defined by the world bank. More than ⅓ mothers are illiterate. Poverty combined with illiterate mothers results in 62% of the kids being undernourished.
Why is hunger in migrant children a major issue ?
The level of malnutrition is high among children whose parents migrate. The children are ignored as the parents struggle to support the family financially through job, housing, and food, and as a result, they do not eat a balanced diet. It is also known that when the mother is undernourished, the children are more likely to be severely malnourished. Malnutrition was also brought on by a lack of food supplies, tiny agricultural holdings that produced little, and poor caregiving.
When food supplies are short, people are forced to make difficult decisions, and sometimes the actions they do to live might have negative effects. Due to having to work with the rest of the family, migrant worker children frequently miss school and lag behind their peers. There is no protection for the kids because child labour regulations are often not enforced among the migrant community. Workers may live in unhealthy conditions, which are particularly risky for children. Locals may discriminate against or resent migrant workers for snatching up the local jobs which will have a negative impact on their mental health.
Innovative and Sustainable Solutions based on model of empowerment at the community level
-I LIGHT Global created the program whereby each week children are supported with free education and nutritional support at grassroot centers of our volunteers homes. These children either get the food when they come to the center or occasionally volunteers take cooked food to their homes. Purpose is to provide well balanced home cooked food or fruits so children can concentrate better in studies.
After initial discussion and training our community workers started cooking fresh food for the children and gave them an incentive to attend classes. Attendance had gone up and interest towards the project grew. Inspired by one pilot center in Himachal Pradesh – the centers have grown to more than 12 across various states of India.
- To support the program further a free pantry project called annapurna was created whereby children and families can pick free ration from the home of the community worker.
- Medical students and doctors have now joined the team by creating health promotion campaigns in the form of posters and sharing on social media and in local whats app groups.
- Detailed blogs on the issue of hunger have been created for targeting the student community to not just spread awareness among them but also letting them take action by going to slums and distributing food or fruits like bananas.
As the new year begins soon, our community volunteers will continue to develop and strengthen the MOGRA nutritional supplement program ,create greater advocacy and expand the leadership in health at the grassroot level. Prioritizing health equity is the essential element of achieving our goals .By working in global health and International development I LIGHT GLOBAL believes to empower communities, expand the projects on hunger and create research & educational capacities in the field of public health .
To conclude – it can be said that each and every individual should take responsibility to fight hunger. We as an organization will expand the program to other community centers and hope to increase the frequency of meals from once a week to twice a week. With more social will , awareness and donor support – the challenges of hunger management can be tackled for sure.