With a view to address the issue of malnutrition, Unicef plans to take up an extensive campaign to reach remote villages and draw an action plan customised to the region.

Visiting the tribals, Unicef teams, are identifying their needs, analysing the delivery mechanism of various schemes of the government and working out a strategy for improving their effectiveness to reach out to the rural communities.

The focus is to help the tribal communities derive the best benefits from government schemes, says nutrition specialist of Unicef Laxmi Bhawani Majji from Hyderabad, who was in the city along with her team on her way to Visakha Agency. “Government has well designed schemes such as National Rural Health Mission and ‘one full meal’ under Integrated Child Development Scheme for children and for pregnant and lactating mothers. However, certain areas need extra attention to even out imbalances between identifying the needs of the communities and coordinating with various government departments to improve the delivery mechanism of the schemes,” she explains.

Acute malnutrition affects the overall development of the child and is likely to result in stunted growth of the child. Most people in rural areas are either unable to afford nutritious food or access health centres. With a mission to address the issue of malnutrition, Unicef is doing its bit to society with direct nutrition interventions and sensitisation on the subject across the district. Some six representatives of Unicef from various departments like nutrition, education, water sanitation, health, child protection and communication have visited Araku and Paderu and interacted with the communities. “With the help of local NGOs (who know the local dialect), civil society and communities, we plan to conduct surveys and focus group discussions in an inclusive manner and work towards bridging the gaps,” Ms. Laxmi told The Hindu.

After the basic survey, the team plans to rope in ASHA workers, aganwadi workers, village heads and tribal leaders and communicate through various channels such as kala-jathas to help spread awareness on nutritious food.