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National Seminar on Nourishment of Tribal Children inaugurated at Bhubaneswar

A two-day national conclave drawing attention to chronic under nutrition of tribal children was inaugurated today at Bhubaneswar by the Minister of ST & SC Development of Odisha, Shri Lal Bihari Himirika. The concave has been jointly organized by Ministry of Tribal Affairs,UNICEF and Govt. of Odisha.

Inaugurating the conclave Shri Himirika said progress will remain incomplete without taking the needs and aspirations of the tribal population into account and development is not possible with children being under nourished. He said, Addressing under-nutrition of children of the Schedule Tribes requires continuous efforts by many Ministries and Departments working together to deliver results.

In his address, UNICEF Representative Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault emphasized the need to focus on the stubbornly high stunting rates among tribal children. This meeting today represents an important moment where we can collectively commit to ensure tribal children have equal chances to develop and grow to their full potential. This conclave is an indication of our resolve to make change happen, he said.

Member of Parliament, Shri. Baijayant (Jay) Panda and Minister of State of Tribal Welfare of Odisha, Shri Sudam Marndi were also present at the inauguration.

This conclave brings together frontline workers, practitioners, State and District officials from Departments of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare, representatives from the Tribal Research Institutes of various States as well as the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and UNICEF. Together they will take stock of the nutrition situation of India’s tribal children, discuss what works and how and how Departments of various States can coordinate, contribute and collaborate for reducing stunting in India’s tribal children. The conclave will chart a road map for these States for improving access to food, nutrition, health and sanitation services for children in tribal pockets and solidify all stakeholders’ commitment toward nourishing India’s tribal children. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.

The conclave is a way to synergize efforts of all concerned Ministries and stakeholders under the convening power of the Ministry/Departments of Tribal Affairs for improving nutrition of tribal children. The conclave also showcases promising practices from various states. Rajasthan for example has set up special malnutrition treatment centers in drought prone districts for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have innovated various models of cr?ches for tribal children given that most tribal women work for long hours away from home. Another noteworthy initiative is the one full meal scheme of Andhra Pradesh to improve nutrition of tribal women.

The focus at the conclave will be to collectively identify gaps and good practices and prepare a roadmap for improving access of tribal children to food, nutrition, health and sanitation that would improve their nutritional status.The participants would identify implementation challenges in the National Tribal Policy and ensure better utilisation of Tribal Sub Plan budgets. Core areas of discussion would be household food and livelihood security, Integrated Child Development Services, health outreach and referral, drinking water and sanitation, plans and budgets for improving service delivery in tribal areas and engagement of civil society including academic institution for improving service uptake.

The two day conclave will have six thematic sessions on food and livelihood security; reach of integrated child development services; outreach and referral of health services; water and sanitation services; tribal budgets and plans; and role of development agencies. Each thematic session will be facilitated by a technical expert in the subject area. Around 150 delegates comprising experts, government officials, practitioners and field workers from various states would be attending the conclave.

Samir/

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