The reports were doing the rounds: how slum children of Mumbai were suffering from malnutrition. Then SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) came forward to save the day.
SNEHA is one of the most pioneering institutions that works towards eradicating malnutrition in the urban areas. Initially, the program was not accepted, and faced a lot of resistance from the people due to lack of awareness on the issue, until they saw the change.
“The pregnant women are advised on what they should eat, and what not to eat, and what kind of lifestyle should be adopted by them,” said a slum woman who actively participated in the group discussion conducted by SNEHA.
SNEHA has played a vital role in creating an evidence-based model for addressing severe problems of malnutrition, wasting and stunting among children in the alums in Mumbai.
The program was executed through different stages. The first phase, or the Phase 1, which mostly focused on screening, growth monitoring, and home-based care for the children below three-years of age and also for the pregnant women. In the second phase, or phase 2, it increased its work arena by increasing the involvement of Integrated Child Development Staff (ICDS) with aim of delivering six most important services, which are supplementary nutrition, nutrition, health important nutrition immunization, referral, health check up, and preschool education. It also facilitated positive interaction between the ICDS and community for child health and nutrition.
The Phase 1 was directed at covering nearly 300 Anganwadis, with the aim of bringing down wasting by 25 percent among children below 3 years. Phase 2 is currently covering 250 anganwadis with the focus on building ownership of ICDS and community towards child health and nutrition.
The program became a huge success in improving major indicators, such as weighing coverage of children with 0-6 years of age. , and registration of pregnant women at Aanganwadi centers and home visits to these beneficiaries by Anganwadi centres.
It has played a vital role in strengthening relationships between the community and the civic administration through formal dialogues, conducted events at Anganwadis to promote uptake of its services. Volunteers/groups are linked with ICDS Anganwadis to join them for for joint home visits, THR distribution, adopting pregnant/lactating mothers and malnourished children for follow ups.
Arranging residential workshops to improve the softer behaviourial issues related to nutrition service delivery was one of its aims for strengthening ICDS implementation focus capacity building of Anganwadi Sevikas.
Comparing the impact of the intervention from baseline (December 2015) to end line (March 2019) wasting among children aged 0-2 years reduced from 17% to 12%. During April 2018 - March 2019, Aahar served an average of 14,149 children and 1,662 pregnant women per month. The programme successfully contributed to a 29 percent reduction. 29% reduction in wasting levels, and significantly contributed to a 158% increase in weighing of children aged 0-2 years from baseline to endline (December 2015 - March 2019).
In the future, the organization wishes include continuous capacity building of volunteers and ICDS to create an enabling environment to improve both the quality and coverage of ICDS services.
SNEHA received Poshan Awards 2019 in the urban nutrition category.