Since 2003 Spandan is working among the less known and nutritionally vulnearble Korku Tribes of Khalwa Block. Korkus are suffering from chronic household hunger .Presently more than 70% children are malnourished and 11% severely malnourished .Spandan intervened by researching and documenting the hunger scenario and the menace of malnutrition and through an effective media Advocacy tried to draw governemnt attention to this crude reality. In 2008 the exposure of 62 children's death across just two dozen villages in three months led governemnt to consider the issue seriously. The reports of Global Hunger Index that the hunger situation in region is as worse as Ethiopia and Chad and coverage of national and international media ultimately led the government to accept this fact.
The governemnt response has been more on emergency relief mode. It esatblished Nutrition Rehab Centers and brought severely malnourished children to NRCs but it failed to gain community acceptance and did not prove to be a sustainable solution. Most of the children who came back from NRCs relapsed as the household hunger sitution remained uncahnged . Various oral autopsies revelead that acute household hunger has been triggering malnutrtion among most vulnearble children.
Spandan has continued by monitoring the malnutrition sceanrio proactively, setting up community models of child friendly creches (called Anganwadis), Advocating greater accessibilty to Food and Employment for Korkus.
The Hunger scenario among Korkus is due to government stance at reducing their subsidized grain quota, promoting production of soybean at the expense of Korkus leaving production of their traditional and highly nutritive crops. Prices of foodgrains in open marklet has become out of reach for most of the poor.
Presently a team of 7 persons are working on this project covering 100 villages across the Khalwa Block.
The project will benefiit around 70,000 Korku population including nearly 25,000 children below 6 years.
With the accessibility to Food & Employment enhanced the poor Korkus will have more food and purchasing power. The setting up of community models at early detection of malnutrition, the child freindly Anganwadis, the behavioral change of mothers at better feeding and child care, empowerment of community to monitior the governemnt food and employment schemes, the efforts at pursuing the Korkus to revert back to growing more nutritious and consumable crops will, in the long run reduce the malnutrition and deaths among vulnerable children below six years.
The biggest challenge is to convince the governemnt to provide special and adequate food pacakage for Korkus not as a dole out but as a Right to Food.
The doantions will help us to consolidate our present efforts aimed at preventing the malnutritioon and saving the lives of thousands of children dyiing preventable deaths.