NEW DELHI: The hunger situation remains grave among the marginalised and vulnerable communities even five months after the lockdown has ended, with a large number of families going to bed without food, showed a ‘Hunger Watch’ survey conducted across 11 states.
The Right to Food Campaign, along with a number of other networks, launched ‘Hunger Watch’ in September 2020 to track the situation in different parts of the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hunger Watch interviewed 3,994 persons in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. While 2,186 were interviewed in rural areas, 1,808 were from urban areas.
About 77 per cent of the PVTG (particularly vulnerable tribal groups) families, 76 per cent of Dalits, and 54 per cent of the adivasis reported that their quantity of food consumption decreased in September-October as compared to pre-lockdown period.
When it came to consumption of cereals, pulses and vegetables, 53 per cent reported that their consumption of rice/wheat had decreased in September-October and for about one in four, it has “decreased a lot”, according to the findings.
Sixty-four per cent people reported that their consumption of dal had decreased, and 73 per cent said their consumption of green vegetables had decreased for the two months.
About 56 per cent of the respondents never had to skip meals before lockdown. In September and October, 27 per cent respondents went to bed without eating. About one in 20 households often went to bed without eating.
Lower income groups hit hardest by lack of nutrition
There was an overall decline in the nutritional quality of food during September and October, with 71% reporting it had become ‘worse’ and, 40 per cent saying it had gone ‘much worse’.
While lower income groups were affected more, 62% of those who earned more than Rs 15,000 per month before lockdown reported that their nutritional quality worsened in September-October compared to before lockdown.
The profile of the respondents showed 79% had income less than Rs 7,000 per month before the lockdown, and 41% earned less than Rs 3,000 per month before the lockdown.
Around 59% of the respondents were Dalits/adivasis, 23% were OBCs and over 50% were women.