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Krishna Mawasi’s Kitchen Garden Saved Her Tribal Village From Starvation

Krishna, who grew vegetables for the first time under a community malnutrition management project, gave away her harvests for free to her villagers to save them from starvation

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Krishna lives in Kelhora village of Satna district’s Majhgawan block in Madhya Pradesh, where children still lose their lives due to malnutrition
  • Mawasi tribe is one of the most vulnerable
  • Mawasi Tribe's livelihood depends on small scale farming
  • COVID-19 led to a dip in demand for the products Mawasi tribe was selling

New Delhi: Putting others’ needs before self is indeed a sign of a true warrior. That’s exactly what 46-year-old Krishna Mawasi did when she gave away everything she harvested after tirelessly working for months, just to save her village from starvation. Krishna lives in Kelhora village of Satna district’s Majhgawan block in Madhya Pradesh, where children still lose their lives due to malnutrition.

She belongs to an extremely backward tribe – Mawasi and the entire livelihood of the tribe relies on forest products and small-scale farming.

However, poor rainfall and lack of irrigation facilities have compelled this tribe to migrate for work to other states.

During this period of the year, all the Mawasi men who migrate for work return to their respective villages for the collection of forest products like Mahua, Tendu, Chironji. It is a major source of earning for them. Unfortunately, due to back-to-back lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no buyers are available. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only resulted in a health crisis but also a major financial crisis for Mawasi families.

Being aware of the situation in her village, Krishna, who grew vegetables for the first time under a community malnutrition management project, is giving away whatever she harvestED for free.

The community malnutrition project is run by Vikas Samvad, a partner organisation of Child Rights and You (CRY) in villages of Majhgawan block. Under this programme, people like Krishna are provided with seeds and assistance to farm in their backyard.

Developing a kitchen garden is one of the ways to curb malnutrition rather than solely depending on government aid, a spokesperson from CRY tells NDTV.

Krishna grew around two quintals of onions, tomatoes, coriander, brinjal, spinach, and okra. The market value of this produce is approximately Rs 20,000, but Krishna gave them to all the women of her village so that they could feed their children.

Majhgawan block being infamous for malnutrition-related deaths among children and Mawasi tribe being the worst affected by it, this step by Krishna has been applauded by many.

I got associated with the kitchen garden project last year with the motive of serving nutritious food to my children. After cultivating vegetables in small quantities last year, I decided to grow them on a slightly bigger scale this year, with the hope of selling a portion of the production. But the pandemic shattered all my plans and left the entire village in dearth of food. This compelled me to help other villagers, especially kids and pregnant and lactating mothers. So I decided to distribute vegetables grown in my backyard for free, Krishna tells NDTV.

Soha Moitra, Regional Director, CRY tells NDTV that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CRY’s kitchen garden and poultry farming programme has never been more valuable. She said,

Our Community-Based Malnutrition Management programme has played an important role in dealing with food insecurity and nutritional issues in rural areas. Our kitchen garden and poultry farming programme have never been more valuable. Especially for poor households, who could barely afford vegetables, fruits, chicken, and eggs, these programs became an important source of nutrition in the family diet.

Ms Moitra says that since schools are reopening in many states, distribution of Midday Meal will also resume but we cannot ignore the fact that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

We, as a nation, need to come up with a mechanism where children could continue to get hot, fresh nutritious meals despite the pandemic as distribution of dry ration and cash amount may not fulfill nutritional needs of a child. Concrete solutions like developing community kitchens for children, distribution of fruits, eggs, and other nutritional food items along with dry ration can be initiated. Moreover, ensuring timely disbursal of social protection schemes especially for pregnant and lactating mothers is need of the hour to avoid further damage.

Lastly, Ms Moitra concludes by saying that the COVID pandemic has taught us how important it is to allocate an adequate budget for public health, and it holds true for child healthcare as well.

Child healthcare should be given more priority in terms of budgetary provisions, now more than ever, she signed out.

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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