“The problem is access and availability of nutritious food”: World Food Day (6 October) – United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly designates a number of “International Days” to mark important aspects of human life and history | Official list >>
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (9 August) >>

Although we have made progress towards building a better world, too many people have been left behind. People who are unable to benefit from human development, innovation or economic growth.

In fact, millions of people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, putting them at high risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. But ending hunger isn’t only about supply. Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet.

The problem is access and availability of nutritious food, which is increasingly impeded by multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions. People around the world are suffering the domino effects of challenges that know no borders.

Worldwide, 75 percent of poor and food insecure people rely on agriculture and natural resources for their living. They are usually the hardest hit by natural oand man-made disasters and often marginalized due to their gender, ethnic origin, or status. It is a struggle for them to gain access to training, finance, innovation and technologies.

Source: Leave NO ONE behind, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
URL: https://www.fao.org/world-food-day/about/en
Date Visited: 12 July 2022

“Hunger” and “undernutrition” amidst widening wealth disparity

In a discussion with Subhoranjan Dasgupta, Professor Patnaik, a distinguished economist from JNU, explores the widening wealth disparity and how a focus on GDP can be used to legitimise transfers to crony capitalists. […]

The MPI [Multidimensional Poverty Index]is a weighted index using criteria for a household to be considered non-poor, like access to piped water, non-thatched dwelling (which could be merely a one room hut with a metal roof), toilet; having a bank account (whether or not the balance is zero); it gives only one-sixth weight to what is misleadingly called a nutrition indicator, namely the body mass index (BMI), which does not actually measure nutritional status. Since it is a ratio (weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres), it can have exactly the same value for persons of normal weight and height, as for persons of the same age who are seriously undernourished and stunted. Even the latter, therefore, would not be considered poor. […]

The last half-century of colonial rule had seen an immense increase in nutritional poverty in British India, which was reversed, though not fully, by strenuous efforts of the post-independence governments prior to the introduction of neo-liberalism in the early 1990s. […] Even the National Family Health Survey, whose data are used by the MPI, shows that the prevalence of anaemia among women aged 15-49 rose from 53% in 2015-16 to 58% in 2019-21. Hunger and undernutrition are stalking the country. India today is worse placed than both Sub-Saharan Africa and the “Least Developed Countries”.

Source: ‘Hunger, Undernutrition Stalking India; Placed Worse Than Least Developed Nations’: Prabhat Patnaik by Subhoranjan Dasgupta, The Wire, 19 January 2024
URL: https://thewire.in/economy/hunger-undernutrition-stalking-india-placed-worse-than-least-developed-nations-prabhat-patnaik
Date Visited: 21 January 2024

Inequalities in Health Indices of Adivasis


Despite South Asia’s promising social inclusion processes, staggering social and health inequalities leave indigenous populations largely excluded. Marginalization in the South Asian polity, unequal power relations, and poor policy responses deter Adivasi populations’ rights and opportunities for health gains and dignity. 

The notions of Adivasi/indigeneity are complex and definitions vary worldwide, with differing histories of colonization, politics, culture, and geographical terrains of living. In South Asia, broadly, they include heterogenous ethnic groups with distinct cultural patterns and community histories. The population distribution of Adivasis varies in the 4 countries: India (8.6%), Nepal (40%), Bangladesh (1.8%), and Pakistan (15.4% Pashtuns alone). Indeed, there is a lack of ethnicity-disaggregated data, which masks inter- and intra-country/community inequalities. Nevertheless, the available evidence, based on studies, reports, and demographic health surveys, indicates significantly poorer health outcomes for Adivasis compared to non-Adivasi populations. This was particularly evident in terms of infant mortality rate (IMR), maternal mortality ratio (MMR), life expectancy at birth, and stunting (Table 1). Notably, although IMR among the Adivasis in India dropped to 44.4 (per 1,000 live births) in 2015–2016 (62.1 in 2005–2006), it was higher than the other (32.1)12 (“other” indicates populations other than Scheduled caste, Scheduled tribe, and Other backward class, official social categories of the census). […]  

Further, future directives should pursue non-discriminatory intersectoral policies and integrated health care interventions to protect Adivasi rights and to address existing poor social conditions and structural inequalities. This is needed to achieve good health, which includes self-determination: recognizing and supporting what the Adivasi populations determine important for their health and well-being.


About the authors – Biographies

Chundankuzhiyil Ulahannan Thresia is an adjunct faculty with the Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India, following research positions in public health schools, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Her recent publications include “Health Inequalities in South Asia at the Launch of Sustainable Development Goals” in the International Journal of Health Services.

Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas is a medical doctor and public health researcher with the Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India. He leads the health equity cluster and is a fellow of the DBT/Wellcome Trust/India Alliance. He has several publications on tribal health and other areas of health inequities.

Katia Sarla Mohindra is Director of Subaltern Health and an adjunct professor with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa. Her research examines the global and local forces that affect the health of subaltern populations.

Chettiparambil Kumaran Jagadeesan is a medical doctor and public health researcher working as deputy director with the Directorate of Health Services, Kerala, India. He was the state nodal officer for tribal health and is currently the state nodal officer of Aardram Mission (Government of Kerala), a novel program that strengthens primary health care and universal access to health care.

Source: “The Health of Indigenous Populations in South Asia: A Critical Review in a Critical Time” by by Chundankuzhiyil Ulahannan Thresia, Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas, Katia Sarla Mohindra & Chettiparambil Kumaran Jagadeesan in (Volume 52, Issue 1) in The International Journal of Social Determinants of Health and Health Services
Download – Free access Research article First published online August 12, 2020 – here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0020731420946588
Date Visited: 13 January 2024

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

How much does biodiversity matter to climate change? The ecosystems of the land and ocean absorb around half our our planet warming emissions. But these are being destroyed by human activity. At the same time, climate change is a primary driver of the destruction of these habitats and biodiversity loss. If biodiversity is our strongest natural defence against climate change (as it’s been described), what’s stopping us from doing more to protect it? | For up-to-date reports listen to The Climate Question (BBC) | United Nations on climate change >>

“In the 2022 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 107th out of the 121 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2022 GHI scores. With a score of 29.1, India has a level of hunger that is serious.” – https://www.globalhungerindex.org/india.html (Date accessed: 22 October 2022) | Related posts >>

“The tribal households traditionally had a backyard garden that had multiple, multilayered and multipurpose indigenous trees, plants, herbs, and shrubs. […] The produce from this small garden was sufficient to meet the dietary and nutrition needs of a family for an entire year.” – Learn more about food crops that are resistant to pests, grow on poor soils, flourish under changed climatic conditions and offer high nutritive value | Food distribution >>

The tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious, including maize, minor millets like kodo and kutki, oil seeds like ramtila, along with fruits, leaves, ­rhizomes, mushrooms, meat and fish. […] We have pushed them out of their complementary relationship with ecology, way of life and time-tested nutrition >>

Find up-to-date information provided by, for and about Indian authors, researchers, officials, and educatorsMore search options >>
Search tips: in the search field seen below, combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community; add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the Forest Rights Act (FRA); and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, women’s rights, and children’s right to education; specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, Himalayan tribe, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>

Images © publishers & photographers featured in Safe Search results
Learn more about water-related issues that affect India’s tribal communities >>
“National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other.” – Droupadi Murmu | Speeches by the 15th President of India >>

“Together, we must endeavour to strengthen tribal communities which are the role model in preservation of water, forest and land, and learn from their connection with nature and the surrounding environment for the sake of the entire human race.” – journalist and tribal rights activist Dayamani Barla in The Wire >>