After 15 years, child stunting has risen in four NE States

Neha Saigal and Saumya Shrivastava
Contd from previous issue
This was the fastest decline in the rate of stunting ever recorded, with the next best being Bangladesh. Conditions in Maharashtra were conducive to the rapid declines in stunting on several fronts, including strong economic growth that reduced poverty and moderately good governance with a focus on nutrition, along with well-performing underlying (contextual) and immediate (causal) determinants of nutrition, the Institute of Development Studies study found.
Between 2006 and 2016, Sikkim consistently improved the contextual determinants of nutrition, with respect to women’s access to education, women’s age of marriage and household access to basic amenities, a 2017 study led by the International Food Policy Research Institute found.
Best practices
Women’s nutrition emerged as a key area to prioritise. For instance, low women’s BMI explained almost a fifth of the difference between high-and low-burden stunting districts in India, showed a 2018 International Food Policy Research Institute study assessing the geographical burden of stunting in India. The latter study also suggests that other variables on women’s well-being like education, age at marriage and education explain close to half the difference between low and high stunting districts in India. Sikkim performs best after Mizoram on women with 10 or more years of schooling and women’s literacy in the North East, National Family Health Survey-5 findings reveal.
While findings and interventions in the North East cannot be compared and translated to most other States in India, “data from the North East needs to be analysed carefully as there is much that the States within the region can learn from each other and there is a need to document the best practices”, Prasad suggested. “In the past, we generalised that improving trends in nutrition in North East India could be due to their local practices, the strong local Government laws and the ability to maintain food sovereignty because of these laws,” said Prasad.
 “The recent National Family Health Survey-5 findings should spur us to gain an in-depth understanding of the disparities between the States and help us understand the determinants at play in nutrition in the region.”

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.