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Crèche project to fight hunger

Ranchi, Nov. 27: A joint forum of NGOs today kick-started a pilot project to fight gross malnutrition in Jharkhand by opening crèches to cater healthy food to children of poor labourers.

The first crèche was inaugurated at Jara Toli village of Ratu block, about 20km from the state capital.

Public Resource Health Network, the forum of NGOs, will open another 89 crèches in villages of Ratu, Gola and Seraikela, where malnourished children will be kept under special care for three years.

“Malnutrition among 0-3-year-old children in Jharkhand is more than 50 per cent. The mental growth of the child takes places between 0-2 years of age and when he does not get nutrition food; his mental growth, too, gets negatively affected. We want to evolve a new method of fighting malnutrition that we will later recommend to the government,” said Haldhar Mahto, programme co-ordinator.

Ratu block will get 29 crèches, while 30 units will be opened each in Gola and Seraikela. Mahto said Sir Dorabji Tata and Allied Trust was funding the pilot project.

Each crèche will cover 10 malnourished children, particularly whose parents work as labourers.

In most cases, mothers tend to take their children along to workplace or leave them with behind with family members.

In either case, the child is deprived of sufficient nutritious food, which is required for his physical and mental growth.

“For breakfast, the children will get food made of gram, wheat, rice and sugar. They will get rice and vegetable for lunch and light snacks in the evening, besides eggs twice a week,” Shakti Pandey, another executive of the forum.

The crèches will have two caretakers each. The NGOs will be spending Rs 11 per child per day. “We will be opening all the proposed crèches in Ratu, Gola and Seraikela before the end of this year,” Mahto said.

Member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Vandana Prasad launched the crèche at Jara Toli in the presence of representatives of various NGOs.

Prasad appreciated the new initiative, urging the network of NGOs to evolve a model that could be adopted by the state to tackle malnutrition among children.