CHENNAI: Tribals in Tamil Nadu rank poorly when it comes to sanitary facilities and separate kitchens but are wealthier than their counterparts in eight other states surveyed by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB).
Sharing the findings of the second repeat survey done by NNMB during 2006-08 while presenting an overview of the status of tribal nutrition profile in India based on the studies, a paper by B Sesikeran, director of National Institute of Nutrition, states that only 2.5 per cent of tribals of TN have access to sanitary latrine and 20.8 per cent have separate kitchens, but when it comes to average per capita income a tribal in TN earns Rs 928 per month compared to Rs 247 earned by an Orissa tribal.
The paper presented by Mahtab S Bamji of Dangoria Charitable Trust and former NIN scientist, in the absence of Sesikeran during the two-day workshop on ‘Addressing household level food and nutrition security for tribal areas’ organised by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, also found high prevalence of under-five mortality among Scheduled Castes (65.4) in urban areas and among Scheduled Tribes (99.8) in rural areas.
While doling out the undernutrition figures, the paper quoting the NNMB survey states Tamil Nadu has 43.6 per cent of tribal children who are underweight, 46.1 per cent who are stunting and 15.4 per cent wasting.
“Barring the intake of staple foods such as cereals and millets, the consumption of qualitative and income elastic foods such as pulses, milk and milk products, fats and oils and sugar and jaggery was low. This was reflected in gross inadequacy in the intake of different micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A, riboflavin and niacin,” the paper stated.
It also stated that while the extent of severe under-nutrition decreased over the years, the prevalence of overall under-nutrition continues. Bamji said one of the main reasons for the prevalence of under-nutrition is that the economic growth has not reached the poor and there has been an unequal growth.