The Need: Food Poverty In India

  Malnutrition In Mumbai 17 children die of malnutrition in Mumbai slum 248 of the 429 children under 5-year malnourished The Mumbai is house to 22 million people, and over 70% live in slums. People living in the slums have limited access to electricity, clean water, food, and education opportunity. The slums are also housing […]

 

Malnutrition In Mumbai

17 children die of malnutrition in Mumbai slum

248 of the 429 children under 5-year malnourished

The Mumbai is house to 22 million people, and over 70% live in slums. People living in the slums have limited access to electricity, clean water, food, and education opportunity. The slums are also housing to over 7 million children’s under the age of 14 who are growing up in abject poverty. Because food is limited and the need for families to pool their resources for survival is great, there is tremendous pressure on children – even as young as 4 years old – to work. Slum children work as rag pickers, sewage cleaners and other unhealthy and hazardous jobs all around Mumbai, earning some rupees a day in order to stave off their families’ hunger. Education and literacy are put off as parents struggle to balance the immediate needs for food over the need of a child to grow, develop, and study in order to build a different life.

Some other facts about Food poverty in India should also give us pause: India is estimated to have one-third of the world’s poor. According to a 2005, World Bank estimate, 42% of India, 456 million people, fall down the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Nearly 30% of workers are casual workers who work only when they are able to get jobs and remain unpaid for the rest of the time. Only 10% of the workforce is in regular employment. The deficiency of adequate sanitation, nutrition, and safe water has significant negative health impacts. Estimated in 2002 by the World Health Organization (WHO) that around 700,000 Indians die each year from diarrhea.

Deficiency of new farming techniques, difficult weather conditions, poor storage conditions, misuse of insecticides and Deficiency of water all mean that many families cannot grow enough crops to feed their children all year round. It is this reason why families leave rural areas to travel hundreds of kilometers just to live in the slums of big cities, like Mumbai. Back in the villages they starve, in the cities, they may find work and survive in the slums. To the New York Times, it is estimated that about 42.5% of the children in India suffer from malnutrition. The World Bank, citing estimates made by the World Health Organization, says that about 49% of the world’s underweight children, 34% of the world’s stunted children and 46% of the world’s malnourished children, live in India.

Girls have it even worse. Some girls are married off early, work as indentured servants or end up in prostitution just to survive. Actually, a major issue which faces India is illiteracy amongst women. There are over 200 million illiterate women in India. Recent studies show that infant mortality is directly inversely proportional to the education level of the mothers – in other words, the children of illiterate mothers are much more likely to die young. These women have high fertility rates, poor earning potential, little autonomy in the household and bad quality of life. Girls’ literacy greatly affects the lives of the women, their children, and their whole society.

Education in health and sanitation, skills training, empowering all children, especially girls, better education in schools, positive influence and outlook have all been tried and tested throughout the world in projects and have seen severe results and drops in the terrible figures above.