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India: Undernourished children

Don't leave survival to chance!

The first 1000 days are crucial

India is a country of contrasts. With 1.2 billion inhabitants, it is the second most populated country in the world. Its economy has enjoyed continuous growth for years. Still, 53 percent of its people live below the poverty line and go hungry. It is especially the children who suffer. Half of them are underweight. Every second malnourished child in the world lives in India. The consequences are dramatic: Children have developmental delays, they frequently suffer from illnesses, and child mortality is high.

Gausiyya is one of the mothers participating in the project. Her youngest child receives dietary supplements for one year © Wernet
Gausiyya is one of the mothers participating in the project. Her youngest child receives dietary supplements for one year © Wernet
Only children with the right diet can develop approprietly for their age. © Wernet
Only children with the right diet can develop approprietly for their age. © Wernet
A chronic lack of vitamins and mineral nutrients leads to malnourishment, which often is not easily identifiable. © Wernet
A chronic lack of vitamins and mineral nutrients leads to malnourishment, which often is not easily identifiable. © Wernet

Even though there was rice every day: Sanija almost died

Visiting Gausiyya, her husband and their three children: In their village in the district of Bidar they are among the poorer families. Fortunately Hina, the oldest child, is doing very well - and little Salman is also healthy and energetic. Only the youngest, three-year old Sanija, caused a lot of worry for her mother at the beginning. "She was not eating right, and didn't eat anything except rice," says Gausiyya. For a long time, she did not give it a second thought. Food is food. But when Sanija stopped gaining weight, her mother started to worry. The girl only weighed ten kilos, compared to 16 kilos for girls her own age. Sanija would have slowly starved, even though she ate a bit of rice every day. Her mother was desperate and went to Welthungerhilfe and its local partner organisations to ask for help. They inform and advise the inhabitants of Bidar on issues of healthy nutrition. Now Gausiyya is participating in a project for malnourished children and pregnant women at risk, and her child receives a special food supplement that gives life, in the truest sense of the word. Sanija is finally doing better.

More than just food is required to ensure that the lives of children are saved in the long run.

Welthungerhilfe's programme against malnutrition and undernourishment is based on three pillars: At its core is a food supplement made of wheat, lentils, peanuts and cane sugar extract. The ingredients are ground into a powder that is added milk or water. The children receive four packages a month for one year. The powder is made by a women's self-help group in the village. The second pillar of the programme consists of medical prevention. Medical assistants regularly check the development of mother and child.
The third pillar consists of training the women how to feed themselves and their families with a balanced diet. As an added support measure, we help the families with setting up their own house gardens for fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins.Recognising hunger early on.
Being full is not enough. The true fight against hunger focuses not just on sufficient food but also on balanced nutrition. A chronic lack of vitamins and minerals leads to malnutrition. This "hidden hunger" often goes undetected. The body compensates for the lack of nutrition by restricting physical and mental activities. In the case of small children, this causes irreversible damages to their development. Their chances at life are decided in the first 1000 days.

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