Govandi slum survey

Photo: Sanjit Das

Bharti, the 3-year-old daughter of Ramesh, a Rickshaw driver, smiled as we held her hand to measure her weight and height, as a part of our survey to detect acute malnutrition. To our dismay, her weight was 40% less than the standard weight for girls her age. Ramesh and his wife, not aware of the threat of malnutrition, thought she would put on weight as she grew older.

This was one of the many cases Action Against Hunger found while conducting a nutrition survey in Govandi in the central suburbs of Mumbai. The survey, to assess both chronic and acute malnutrition in under-fives, was conducted using a scientific methodology, called SMART: Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition. The survey also captured information about the prevalence of diseases which can make undernutrition worse: like diarrhea and malaria.

The two-month-long survey, of 304 children, was completed in June 2015 and the results were alarming. At Govandi we recorded a dramatic 23.4 % rate of malnutrition, way over the critical emergency rate defined by the World health Organisation. Similarly, 3.8% of the children surveyed were found to suffer from the worst kind of malnutrition, called severe acute malnutrition, which calls for urgent action and treatment to prevent death.

Going forward, Action Against Hunger aims to launch a Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in August that covers building awareness and prevention of malnutrition in the area. 


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