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Delhi has a dark underbelly; Where thousands of children go to sleep hungry everyday!!

29th April '11


66% in Delhi's slums malnourished

NEW DELHI: Beyond the glitz and glamour of the nation's capital, there's a dark underbelly - where thousands of children go to sleep hungry everyday. Statistics show that at least two-thirds children under the age of six in Delhi's slums are malnourished - the shocking reality of a nation growing at the rate of 8%. And according to the Situational Analysis of Young Children in Delhi Report, 2010, 66% children under six in Delhi's slums barely surive on crumbs.

The condition of these kids has further worsened with poor facilities provided by government-funded schemes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Child Rights and You (CRY) is leading a crusade for child rights. Ram Kumar Verma, president of Action for Health Education and Social Awareness Society, said anganwadis do not follow ICDS norms and were concerned only with food distribution. Even what is distributed in inadequate in both quality and the quantity.

Speaking at the CRY meet, Verma said: "Many anganwadis do not have weighing scales or weighing charts to determine the child's health. Some do not even provide a proper referral slip so that these children and their mothers can avail of medical facilities entitled to under the scheme.".

The situation is abysmal if one looks at the number of children covered under the 6,400 anganwadis in Delhi, he added. "Delhi has around 12 lakh children of which only around 2 lakh are covered by anganwadis," he said. While the figures in the Capital paint a grim picture, the situation is worse in states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

A survey done by CRY and Voice of People (VOP) found that of 2,841 children living in 147 villages across eight districts of UP, 54% children were malnourished.

Explaining the gravity of the situation and its long-term effects, Shubhendu Bhattacharya, general manager of CRY for the North India programme, said malnutrition is a major reason high dropout rates from school.

"Lack of nourishment hampers development of a child's brain, which happens till the age of five," he said.

Another sample survey done in Madhya Pradesh found that of 255 children in 11 settlements of Bhopal, 20% were severely malnourished.

It is a well-known fact that India is one of the nations moving towards achieving the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015, one of them being child health. But India has slipped to the 67th position in the Global Hunger Index 2010 and contributes to a whopping 49% of the world's malnourished children.




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