BHUBANESWAR: A national conclave beginning here tomorrow will chalk out strategies to improve access of tribal children to food, health and sanitation in the backdrop of high child mortality rate in the country due to chronic undernutrition or stunting.
Official sources said the conclave would discuss ways to ensure proper coordination among departments of various states so they can contribute and collaborate for reducing stunting.
It is being organised by union tribal affairs ministry, Odisha government and UNICEF. Frontline workers, practitioners, state and district- level officials from departments of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe, women and child development, health ministry and representatives from research institutions would participate in the conclave, an official release said.
Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana states are taking part in the conclave, the sources said.
The meet would chart a road map for these states for improving access to food, nutrition, health and sanitation services for children in tribal areas and strengthen all stakeholders' commitment in the task.
Challenges in the implementation of National Tribal Policy would be identified for ensuring better utilisation of tribal sub plan budgets.
It said the the conclave would find ways to ensure that the tribal sub plan (TSP) becomes an effective and dynamic tool to mobilise resources for tribal children's needs in food, nutrition and other developmental requirements.
Ways to strengthen Integrated Tribal Development Authority for inter-sectoral coordination and monitoring of services in tribal areas would also be discussed, they said.
According to National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06), India has the highest number of stunted children globally and most of them are from tribal communities.
Almost half of Indian children are stunted with the prevalence being highest among children belonging to scheduled tribes, as per the survey.
Stunting is an irreversible and chronic manifestation of undernutrition. It contributes to one-third of under-five deaths and adversely affects a child's survival, health, development, learning capacity, school performance and his or her productivity in adulthood.
It is influenced by factors like household food insecurity, maternal nutrition, poor feeding and care practices in the first two years of life and poor access to water, health and sanitation service, the sources added.