Health and Nutrition

Jay Naidoo, formerly Minister of South African Reconstruction in Honourable President Nelson Mandela’s Office and founder General Secretary of Confederation of South African Trade Unions and currently Chairman of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition visited Haryana and Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh where CADAM had been working in the field of health and nutrition. On 27th January 2012, Jay Naidoo and CADAM CEO Ashok Bharti visited the Nyana village in Hisar district and had interaction and discussions with local Dalit leaders and people of the village. Others who participated in this discussion included Phool Singh Gautam, Senior Manager (Retd), Advocate Rikhi Ram, Advocate Rajat Kansal, Suresh Tank, Haryana State President of NACDOR. On 28th January 2012, Jay Naidoo visited CADAM’s work in Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh. He visited a Saharia tribe hamlet located outside the main village Mathurapura in Jhansi district. He spent time with the local people, learned about their issues and needs and assured them all help through CADAM to overcome them. Before leaving Jhansi, Naidoo learned about CADAM’s Bundelkhand Shiksha Abhiyan and appreciated the efforts that had been put forth by the organisation. On 5th February, CADAM organised a lecture by Jai Naidoo where distinguished civil society leaders also joined for interactions and exchanges in Delhi’s Habitat Centre. Care India Head, Mohd. Musa, NFI Head, Amitabh Behar, Christian Aid Country Head Anand Bolimera and several others participated in the program.

  • The organisation started empowering all the community members/leaders to assert their entitlements and rights in non-discriminatory ways.
  • The organisation had done a baseline survey on a sample basis in 42 villages.
  • Mass mobilisation was done in the villages which had helped in identifying community leaders at the village level and formation of 195 village level Akhil Bharatiya MNREGA Mazdoor Union (ABMMU) units of job cardholders/wage workers in the operational villages.
  • Enhancing awareness on MNREGA provisions had started achieving results in the project villages slowly. The success of village leadership and presence of ABMMU had been evident by the local level pressure building and application drives for getting job cards and demanding wage work, which was well taken by the local print media.
  • Collective application drive on 9th November 2011 for getting wage work by the Dalits/Adivasi/Minorities job cardholders was instrumental in creating a progressive environment in favour of Dalits/Adivasi/Minorities/Women groups. Nearly 30 percent of the applicants got a positive response and got job cards as well as received wage work just after submitting of application.

The organisation generated awareness about approved MNREGA panchayat plan for the current financial year, i.e., April 2012- March 2013 through wall writing and sharing during the village-level meeting. This awareness had created positive hope among community leaders and project team members. Many Mukhiya (Gram Pradhan) started approaching the project team members to consult on the redressal of their problems of MNREGA planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

The major challenges faced by CADAM in this project included political and local infighting, non-coordination from PRIs representatives and MNREGA functionaries, non-functional grievance redressal mechanism in the state, absence of documented evidence in complaints of socially excluded groups.

The national agenda for action was adopted in the National Conference of Dalit Organisationsorganised on 4 December 2012. Nutrition Security Fellows were supported in 20 districts who took the message of nutrition and health behaviour change and entitlements to 2,00,000 Dalit men, women and children. They organised village level local Nutrition Security Committees which made successful attempts to bridge the gaps between the needy communities and services available from the government. Two pieces of training were organised for the Nutrition Security Fellows for their orientation and capacity-building on nutritional issues and related government schemes. A status report on “The Crisis of Malnutrition in India: A Dalit Perspective”, supported by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) was published and disseminated. Besides this, posters and pamphlets were distributed and wall writings were undertaken to spread the messages for behavioural changes and entitlements to the community members.

Two training of Dalit women leadership training for the year 2012-2013 was organised, one at Deoghar in Jharkhand in August 2012 and the other in Jaipur in November 2012. The training focussed on “Laws and Rights of Dalit women”. It trained participants on their role, formation and administration of NGOs, the necessity of Dalit and Adivasi women’s movement in the existing scenario. history and struggle of women’s movement in Bihar and Jharkhand.

The first National Conference of Dalit Women was held on 4th December 2014 in the deputy speaker hall of Constitution Club. More than 350 women delegates from all over the country participated in the conference. The conference was inaugurated by Minister of Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath. Based on the theme “Dalit Feminism: Challenging Caste and Patriarchy”, the National conference adopted a declaration.

CADAM also organised a two-week long campaign from November 25- December 10, 2014, on violence against Dalit Women in seven different states of Northern India such as Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Haryana, MP, and Delhi. The campaign was carried by utilising campaign material such as posters and leaflets in six states of northern India. Various community meetings were also organised in the same year in Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri in Delhi. Major issues were of ration card, water and sanitation. Meetings drew government attention towards the difficulties that women face.

CADAM was instrumental in partnership with GAIN and NACDAOR in initiating National Campaign on Nutrition for Dignity (NCND)on 5-6th December 2013. The campaign had begun in 10 states in India. Its aim was to motivate and capacitate grass-root level community leadership of socially excluded Dalits and Adivasis on nutritional security, thus enabling them to change their behaviour, demand and access their entitlements and make duty-bearers accountable. The campaign operated at the national level. It was an attempt to contribute to the improvement of nutrition governance in the country. It selected 30 blocks from 29 districts in 5 states of India for village-level intervention in 210 panchayats. These states were Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi, Allahabad, Kaushambi, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Jhansi, Etawah, Raebareilly, Hardoi, Kushinagar, Lucknow), Bihar (Jamui, Lakhisarai, Patna, Nawada, Buxar), Madhya Pradesh (Rewa, Morena, Damoh, Tikamgarh), Jharkhand (Lohardaga, Dhanbad, Giridih, Dumka, West Singhbhum), and Odisha (Rayagada, Kalahandi, Koraput, Kandhamal, Gajapati). Besides these five states, the campaign also created state-level common platforms with the community and civil society groups in West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Haryana to find out barriers and solutions to improve the nutrition service delivery and behaviours.The organisation highlighted the administrative policy gaps that needed to be addressed through organising gram sabha and community-led social audit of schemes and entitlements related to nutrition and food security such as ICDS, MDM, and PDS. This was done through organising participatory training for the conduct of social audit with a live demonstration of social audit processes held in 6 villages of 3 districts.

In the processes of participatory social audit training, 2 social audits were conducted in Masmano and Bedar village of Bhandara block in the district of Lohardagga of Jharkhand, other 2 social audits were conducted in Brahmpur and Kanhaipur village of Mokama block of Patna district in the state of Bihar and finally 2 more social audits were conducted in Bhagwanpur and Hanumanj village of Khadda block of Kushinagar district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The findings and recommendations of Social Audit related to the ground situation of ICDS, MDM and PDS were brought in the public domain. The findings were also shared with respective duty bearers and state level authorities for immediate action. Scheme-wise issues, findings and jury decisions were captured during the public hearing. CADAM helped NCND in conducting 4 state-level Steering Committee Meetings to discuss the need and importance of this committee at Bhopal, Lucknow, Ranchi and Patna. Stakeholders including Dalits/Adivasis and women leaders participated during meetings and expressed their readiness for ensuring their representation in the committee as per the defined set of the structure of the committees. The purpose of these meetings was to seek the advice of participating stakeholders in making the National Campaign on Nutrition for Dignity realise the goals of inclusive nutrition security. The other purpose was to discuss the issues of malnutrition for Dalits and Adivasis while reflecting on the strategies and programmes for realising the vision of nutrition secure India.

CADAM had been making concerted efforts to strengthen the health and nutrition service delivery system. It had been mobilising the community to demand improving family level maternal and child care services towards reducing malnutrition and improving the health status of women and children. With this aim, CADAM worked intensively in 24 villages of Babina block of Jhansi district, with support from CARE India, the impact of its work had been felt in the neighbouring villages and blocks. The testimony of these impacts was that the now district health administration ordered its block-level deployed doctors and NRHM team to conduct health check-up camps as per the demand of the people. The health sub-centre of Tuka village which had been dysfunctional since it had started, had been activated due to our intervention. A group of young leaders (both male and female) had emerged in the intervention villages due to our prolong engagement and training. CADAM realised that there were gaps between service providers and communities as a result of which the welfare programs and schemes had not achieved their intended results. Therefore, CADAM bridged these gaps by connecting government with communities through organisation of women health day, health check-up camp and immunization awareness campaign. CADAM had formed Dalit Women Health committees and Adolescent Girls Clubs at village level and oriented them to monitor the effective implementation of ICDS, NRHM, JSSY, etc.

This had been an innovative project that addressed the intergenerational cycle through a multi-sectoral convergent approach. CADAM was emerging as a pioneer to bring together community and different related sectors such as Health, ICDS, and Panchayati Raj institutions to improve the health of mothers and children with particular emphasis on malnutrition in Babina block. The project made path-breaking initiatives with useful lessons for future scaling up and replicability. The activities included awareness meetings at the village level on immunization, CBOs leaders’ capacity building training, dissemination of awareness material, observing women’s health days and village health camps. Dalit Women Health committees and Adolescent Girls Clubs were formed to get involved in some of the village level public health activity like cleanliness drive, sanitation drive, school health activities, etc.