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High-level Bhubaneswar Conclave: ‘Nourishing India’s Tribal Children’ Inaugurated

BHUBANESWAR, January 15, 2015:  A two-day national level Conclave drawing attention to chronic under nutrition of tribal children across nine schedule V states was inaugurated today by the Hon’ble Minister ST & SC Development Department, Government of Odisha, Shri Lal Bihari Himirika. Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Shri. Baijayant (Jay) Panda, Hon'ble Minister of State, Tribal Welfare, Odisha, Shri Sudam Marndi; Hon'ble Minister of State, Scheduled Caste Welfare, Smt. Snehangini Chhuria; and UNICEF India Country Representative, Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault were present at the inauguration.

The Conclave is a way to synergize efforts of all concerned Ministries and stakeholders under the convening power of the Ministry/Departments of Tribal Affairs for improving nutrition of tribal children.

Balanced and healthy nutrition remains a major challenge amongst the tribal population in India. Such Malnutrition has a major bearing on the growth of children particularly in tribal populations.

Inaugurating the Conclave, Hon’ble Minister Shri Lal Bihari Himirika said, “Progress will remain incomplete without taking the needs and aspirations of the tribal population into account and development is not possible with children being under nourished.  Addressing under-nutrition of children of the Schedule Tribes requires continuous efforts by many Ministries and Departments working together to deliver results.”

In his address, UNICEF Representative Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault emphasized the need to focus on the stubbornly high stunting rates among tribal children. “India’s tribal people continue to remain the most nutritionally deprived groups in the country. Tribal children face multiple deprivations putting them at much higher risk to become undernourished, challenging their growth and development.”

“This meeting today represents an important moment where we can collectively commit to ensure tribal children have equal chances to develop and grow to their full potential. This conclave is an indication of our resolve to make change happen,” he said.

The two-day conclave, which brings together practioners, frontliners, academia, civil society, policy makers, and legislators will catalyse a discussion on the actions that can address the challenge: Household food & livelihood security; Integrated Child Development Services; Health outreach & 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.

The conclave also showcases promising practices from various states. Rajasthan for example has set up special malnutrition treatment centers in drought prone districts for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have innovated various models of crèches for tribal children given that most tribal women work for long hours away from home.  Another noteworthy initiative is the one full meal scheme of Andhra Pradesh to improve nutrition of tribal women.

Films and other materials can be found here: www.unicef.in/tribalchildren and the conclave can be followed on Twitter under #ICOMMIT

Note to the Editors

Research shows that to reduce stunting ( too short for their age), investing during the first 1,000 days of life is critical; this involves improving women’s nutrition before, during pregnancy and lactation, and in children from birth up to two years of age.

Ten proven high-impact nutrition interventions and existing government programs, if delivered fully, during the critical window of opportunity can halve the proportion of undernourished children over the next 10 years. Tribal children have high levels of under-nutrition because of the low coverage of these 10 essential interventions.

For further information, please contact:

UNICEF Odisha

Alka Gupta, Communication Specialist, UNICEF office, Odisha

Tel:+91-9937285547; e-mail: agupta@unicef.org

UNICEF India

Caroline Den Dulk, Chief Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India.

Tel: +91-98-18106093; e-mail: cdendulk@unicef.org

Geetanjali Master, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India

Tel: +91-98-118105861;e-mail: gmaster@unicef.org

Sonia Sarkar, Communication Sarkar, UNICEF India

Tel: +91-98-10170289; e-mail: ssarkar@unicef.org

Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India:

Samir Sinha, Spokesperson

Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Room No.309, National Media Center

7-E, Raisina Road, New Delhi-110001

Tel. (Off.) 23488098, 23488377