Seema and Michael Prakash- Spandan

Context:

This husband and wife team is working together in Madhya Pradesh to address the double catastrophe, of malnutrition and endangered tribal culture, faced by the Kurku, a nutritionally vulnerable tribe of Central India. They are doing this by creating the effective implementation of The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), addressing issues of food and nutrition though the establishment of wages and the Right to Food Act. 

Critical Insights:

Centralized malnutrition clinics are ineffective for rural laborers and do not address the needs of the rural population.
Institutionalized treatment only required for the children who are also infected by disease, most of the cases of malnutrition can be managed at the community level.
Lack of employment led to widespread migration of the tribal population leading to changing food patterns and difficulty in obtaining food. Effective implementation of NREGA is meant to address this.
There is a need to base design of the PDS and Food Security Bill on credible data.

Strategy:

Spandan has adopted a strategy that has elements of grass roots innovations and participation as well as advocacy and lobbying for greater food and nutrition accessibility by Korku. Prakash and Seema are working to decentralize the treatment of malnutrition and enable communities and mothers to implement it. They have worked on a model of classifying malnutrition in such a way that those who are mildly or moderately affected are treated by home visits and appropriate counselling of food to be given and the children with infections are referred for medical treatment.
They are advocating with the government of Madhya Pradesh to allow local productions of the RUTF. In addition, they are also advocating for creation of special category of Malnutrition prone areas to be included in Food Security Bill, as these areas require special arrangements and more intensified support. They are also promoting tribal entrepreneurship in the form of enabling the Kurkus to sell products in the local market to their kinsmen, undertaking construction of bunds in the sanctuary and other such community development measures.

Impact:

Through their efforts, Seema and Prakash have drawn government attention to the severity of malnutrition among the Korku tribe. This has resulted in relatively more attention and the revamp of existing health and nutritional services. Their community based malnutrition model has also shown the way forward for addressing malnutrition in a holistic manner: at the homes, using local resources, as opposed to clinical treatment at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre. The Child-Friendly Anganwadis and the Tribal Entrepreneurship program have shown significant success as well, retention times having improved and an increase in confidence among tribal youth. 
To learn more about Spandan, please click here.