Study on School-level Dietary Adequacy and Impact of Cultural Beliefs in Remote Rural Areas

Sector: Nutrition, Research, Action Research, Advocacy | Geography: 5 Hoblis of H D KoteTaluk, Mysore | Partners: Azim Premji University, Bangalore | Team: Dr. Doreraj, Muthuraj, Sumitra, Divyashree H. R.

Tribal communities in India are at a lower rung of social hierarchy. They have been deprived and discriminated on almost on all fronts. They are also ‘at risk’ of under nutrition. H D Kote of Mysore district is a backward taluk in Karnataka. It accounts for a considerable percentage of the State’s tribal population.

Malnutrition is a significant contributor to child mortality and its effects on tribals is even more acute. The findings of the project can help the government in improving its reach and impact of the programme.

The main objectives of the project are to assess

  • 1. the nutritional profile of students, based on social sub-groups and the dietary intake of children and families,
  • 2. the household decision making process with respect to health and food choices, and
  • 3. to identify possible interventions to enhance access, availability and affordability of nutritional food and disseminate this knowledge among communities, key policy makers and programme implementers at senior levels of the government.

The study is being carried out in two phases. In phase 1, baseline study was conducted in 15% of the schools in 5 Hoblis (A Hobli is a cluster of adjoining villages administered together for tax and land tenure purposes in the State of Karnataka) of HD Kote taluk using stratified sampling approach. The baseline study recorded student profiles and observations on mid-day-meal programmes in the selected schools. Household surveys, hygiene observation checklists in selected households and nutrition related focus group discussions were carried out to understand household nutrition status and perspectives on nutrition and food choices. The baseline study profiled 1635 students from the 1st to 5th grade, including 725 students from scheduled tribes, within the 5 Hoblis of HD Kote Taluk.
Household survey was carried out in 360 households of which 50% households belonged to scheduled tribes.There are large variations in the provision of infrastructure and hygiene among the visited schools. Further, undernourishment was markedly visible during the baseline survey.

In phase 2, nutrition related interventions will be carried out among selected households and changes in food and nutrition status will be observed. Based on the findings of the two phases of the study, further steps would be decided. The first phase of the project has been completed and the collected data is being analysed. The implementation strategies for the second phase of the study are being planned.