Michael and Seema Prakash have successfully brought the issue of critical malnourishment of young children into the limelight in the country. Working with the remote Kurku tribe and rural workers of Madhya Pradesh, their organisation, Spandan, lobbies for the fair treatment of rural workers and effective food and nutrition schemes through the Right to Food Act.
During Michael and Seema’s fight for the proper implementation of NREGA, they discovered that the centralized malnutrition scheme of the Act does not properly disseminate malnutrition interventions or food security to rural villages. With this insight, the Prakashs have set out to create a community driven malnutrition scheme for the Food Security Bill. The pronged malnutrition program allows families to manage malnutrition with Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) rather than send their children to government institutions which are only necessary in extreme situations of disease. Furthermore, the Prakashs are advocating for the Madhya Pradesh government to allow local production of RUTF supplies, making solving malnutrition a local initiative. In accord with their values, they have successfully lobbied against the use of Plumpy’nut, a French malnutrition treatment, in Madhya Pradesh because the product is expensive and often alien to the rural residents.
Currently, Spandan serves 100 villages throughout the state. It has successfully tracked and treated 1500 malnourished children and has converted 1000 farmers to produce local RUTF supplies such as millet and maize. But 69% of the children remain stunted, so the Prakash’s will continue to advocate on behalf of the people of Madhya Pradesh. Recognizing that the next step in malnutrition is food diversification, they have begun to partner with agriculture organisations across the state.
Additionally, Michael and Seema are working to convince the government to employ a more community based approach in the Right to Food Act and the implementation of NREGA. Thanks to their work the government has begun to recognize the importance of nutrition and now they are working together to find the best practices. Since 2006, Michael and Seema have continued to be champions of the working poor in Madhya Pradesh. They hope that through their grassroots organizing this population will be fairly represented in the future.
This profile was updated in October 2014. Read on for the Election Profile.