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COVID-19 Lockdown Negatively Impacted Women’s Nutrition In India: Study

The study was conducted in four economically backward districts of Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj, Bihar’s Munger, and Odisha’s Kandhamal and Kalahandi indicate a decline in household food expenditures and women’s dietary diversity in May 2020

COVID-19 Lockdown Negatively Impacted Women’s Nutrition In India: Study
Highlights
  • Women’s diets were lacking in diverse foods even before the pandemic: Study
  • COVID-19 has further exacerbated the situation: Study
  • Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition conducted the study

Washington: The nationwide lockdown in India in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on women’s nutrition in the country, according to a study conducted by a group of researchers in the US. The study by Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition in four economically backward districts of Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj, Bihar’s Munger, and Odisha’s Kandhamal and Kalahandi indicate a decline in household food expenditures and women’s dietary diversity in May 2020 compared to May 2019, particularly for non-staples like meats, eggs, vegetables and fruits.

It occurred despite the special Public Distribution System (PDS), direct benefit transfer and ration from aanganwadis reaching 80 per cent, 50 per cent and 30 per cent of the surveyed households, respectively, said the study published in the latest issue of Economia Politica journal.

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Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence of women’s disproportionate vulnerability to economic shocks, the impact of a staple grain focused safety net programme, and restricted markets on the access and availability of diverse nutritious foods, says the paper which makes a case for policy reforms towards PDS diversification to include nutrition-rich foods and market reforms to remove supply-side bottlenecks and expansion of direct benefit transfers for healthy food access.

Women’s diets were lacking in diverse foods even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has further exacerbated the situation, said Soumya Gupta, a research economist at TCI who co-authored the study along with Prabhu Pingali, TCI director; Mathew Abraham, assistant director; and consultant Payal Seth.

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Any policies addressing the impact of the pandemic on nutritional outcomes must do so through a gendered lens that reflects the specific, and often persistent, vulnerabilities faced by women, she said in a statement issued by the Cornell University.

Researchers said that policymakers should recognise the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and other disruptive events on women’s nutrition by bolstering safety-net programmes to ensure that they meet the needs of women and other marginalised groups.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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