Melghat is a tribal region that is located in the Amravati District of Maharashtra, India. The number of malnutrition cases in that area is one of the highest in the nation. A study of this phenomenon by Birdi, Joshi, Kotian, and Shah in 2014, published by the Global Journal of Health Science, came to these conclusions about the facts and statistics behind the persistent malnutrition in the region.
1. A lack of available vegetables.
When asked about what constitutes a healthy diet, the respondents from Melghat listed eating rise, pulse, and flat bread daily. 4 out of 5 respondents said that the affordability and accessibility of vegetables were a common reason for poor nutrition. The average amount spent at the local market was just $6.75, with 50% of that cost being dedicated to food purchases.
2. A lack of summer crop cultivation.
Because of a lack of water resources, many in Melghat who had the ability to farm were only doing so during the monsoon season. This leads to an abundance of potatoes and onions, but decreases the availability of summer vegetables even further. The research study discovered that even though 50% of the croplands in the region had access to summer irrigation, the overall lack of water access meant that only 14% of available cropland was used for summer cultivation.
3. A lack of off-season economic stability.
96% of the households in Melghat have an additional income which is provided by selling honey, tobacco leaves, bamboo crafts, or mill work. This income was generally available in the winter months, but not usually available to households in the summer months.
4. A lack of overall household stability.
Because of the need to earn more income, 70% of the men with families in Melghat would migrate to nearby cities to work as laborers.
5. A lack of high quality banking resources.
When households in Melghat would receive income from their agricultural work, a majority of what they earned had to be paid to local money lenders. The range of loans that needed to be paid during the survey was $50-$670, with rates much higher from local lenders than from local banks. Jewelry was used to secure these loans because banking is deemed by a majority of workers to be “complicated and cumbersome.”
6. A lack of clean water.
Melghat has many areas of untreated water that is given to children, on average, at the age of 24 months. One of the most common foods given to young children is chipati, a griddle bread, but it is often thick and difficult for the children to eat. The local perception of this is that the child is therefore not ready to eat and is not given an alternative food because of the meager resources that are available to households.
The systemic malnutrition in Melghat is one-part economics, one-part water availability, and one-part due to a lack of education. If these items can be addressed, the facts and statistics of malnutrition in Melghat show that this is a trend that can be reversed.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.