Barmer, the third largest district forms a part of the Thar desert and is situated in the western part of the State. The district consists of 93.0 percent rural and 7.0 percent urban population whereas the State percent of rural and urban population is 75.1 and 24.9 respectively. As per National Family Health Survey – 4, children under five years of age who are underweight and wasted are 40% and 26% in Barmer which is more than the overall status of Rajasthan state i.e. 37% and 23% respectively. Further it is seen that children under the age of six months who are exclusively breastfed are 35% only as compared to the state indicator which is 58%.

It is therefore essential that the local government own, promote, monitor and sustain nutrition initiatives through the constitutional structures - effecting convergence of actions at the grassroots. The active involvement of panchayats is seen to be a key factor in changing societal norms and entrenched behavior patterns in campaigns such as Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and also as related to examples from different states.

The engagement was planned and carried out by Action Against Hunger/Action Against Hunger in association with the department of Health in convergence with Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Zila Parishad for the members of Panchayati Raj Institutions i.e. Sarpanches and village leaders of Barmer district.

The objectives of the workshop were as follows:

  • Exchanging knowledge on nutrition and status of malnutrition in Barmer and Rajasthan
  • Sharing the POSHAN- CMAM (Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition) initiative launched by the National Health Mission (NHM), Government of Rajasthan and success stories
  • Role of the village leaders (Sarpanches) to tackle malnutrition at the grassroots


After a warm welcome by the Regional Advocacy Officer, Mr. Kuldeep Sinisinwar; the Head of Advocacy in India for Action Against Hunger-India, Ms. Mousumi Gupta briefed about the objectives of the workshop and progress of the Nutrition Agenda in Rajasthan by the state government. She also highlighted the importance of the engagement of the members of the PRIs in achieving the said agenda.

The Deputy Chief Medical and Health Officer (Dy-CMHO) of Barmer, Dr. P C Deepan mentioned that consumption of low nutritious food among the women and children often lead to frequent illness among them. He urged the members of the PRIs to spread the message of good nutrition to the community which will help in achieving upright health of individuals in the society.

The Reproductive Child Health Officer (RCHO), Dr. Preet Mohinder Singh started with a quote “Aap Yaha Aaye…. Apno ke liye” meaning “You came here…not just for yourself but for your families”. Explaining the POSHAN programme and how IMR and MMR can be brought down with the help of such programmatic implementation, he requested the members of the PRIs to actively participate in the programmes so the the gaps between the community and health services can be filled effectively.

Ms. Aakanksha Pandey, State Programme Manager-Nutrition & Health, FHF- Rajasthan explained about the status of malnutrition in Barmer and Rajasthan. Further, she discussed on child malnutrition, its causes and about how malnutrition can be cured at the community level. She also emphasized on importance of early identification of severe malnourished children so that prompt referral and treatment can be provided to those with severe conditions and medical complications.

Mr. Rakesh Bhati, District ASHA Coordinator, Barmer shared about the position and role of ASHAs under the POSHAN programme at the village level and how Sarpanches can help in selection of good motivated ASHA sahyoginis for their community.

The In charge-Child Development & Protection Officer (CDPO), Barmer, Mr. Subhash Sharma mentioned the six services of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) being provided by Anganwadi worker through Anganwadi Centres at villages and communities. Further, he emphasized on teaching mothers about the importance of nutrition and proper care of her child. He also mentioned about importance of supplementary nutrition for children up to the age of five years and preschool activities.

The CMHO, Barmer, Dr. Kamlesh Chaudhary communicated about the POSHAN programme implementation in three blocks previously and extension of the program in other five blocks. He also explained about how ICDS and Health department have come together in reducing malnutrition in district and now with the help of PRI members more effective and result oriented efforts can be put together. He also shared some good practical examples of locally available food and their importance in mother and child health. He also asked Sarpanches to motivate frontline workers at their villages in a positive way and assured them of any help required.

Mr. Sanjay Kumar, State Programme Manager- Advocacy, AAH concluded the workshop with vote of thanks to all the participants and shared about the importance and acceptance of locally available nutritious food at village level for better health and nutrition.

At the end of the the workshop an intecative session was held between the Sarpanches and the officials of Health and ICDS department. The Sarpanches appreciated the knowledge shared during the workshop and assured their positive participation towards the issue of malnutrition at their community level. They asked for more such interactive session in future and thanked the AAH/FHF team for the workshop.


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