Flanked by the Bay of Bengal, Orissa is one of the 29 states of India and is now named “Odisha.” More than 33 million people call this state their home, with many of them battling malnutrition. Malnutrition in Orissa is particularly troublesome for children under the age of 3 who live in tribal areas, but 45% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.
UNICEF reports that 57% of tribal children in Orissa are chronically undernourished. It is a state that struggles to provide basic healthcare needs in addition to struggling to provide basic food resources. Hunger is such an issue that 19 children in just one northern village died from malnutrition during the summer of 2016.
In a survey of tribal hamlets, 114 children were assessed by the government. 52 of them were suffering from acute malnutrition, with 27 of them suffering from stunting due to severe malnutrition.
What Is Causing the Issue of Malnutrition in Orissa?
There is a lot of blame to go around when looking at the issue of malnutrition in Orissa. For starters, many of the tribal hamlets have simply been forgotten by the government. It took the government three months to locate one village just to survey it.
There are societal issues in place as well. Child weddings are common in Orissa, when young teen girls often having children that they cannot care for. Girls are being married as young as the age of 10, with many having their first child by the age of 14.
Many villages in Orissa have no health care centers. There is little access to electricity and virtually no roads. For many, this means the closest hospital in more than 20 miles away and the only way to get there is to walk. Assigned health care workers may visit their villages 1-2 times per year at most.
There Is Zero Connectivity in Orissa
Many service providers have families take oaths that they will feed their children, but with zero connectivity to any services or even basic educational information, there is no way to uphold that oath. From the perspective of the tribal villages, it is difficult to feed their children food when there is no food around to eat.
It is a state where doctors are few and far between. It is a state where many people are forgotten. Until these two basic facts change, malnutrition in Orissa will continue to be an issue that afflicts many.