Nutrition Coalition Recommends nutrition-based rationing in underprivileged homes of Odisha
Bhubaneswar, 10th Feb 2016: For a state like Odisha, there is an urgent need for the State Food Commission to focus on not only food, but also nutrition security. The state of Odisha still reels under poverty and holds the backward tag. Its marginalised population, specifically the tribal and Dalits, solely depend on the food and nutrition programmes mandated under The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. The nutrition landscape is extremely deplorable. The prevalence of stunting and wasting among the children less than 5 years of age are 38.2% and 18% respectively. Stunting, among the Tribal children and Other Backward Caste (OBC) Children, is 46.1% and 41.3% respectively. Almost 8% of the children are severely affected malnourished (SAM). As malnutrition has a severe impact on the present and future generations, it is clear that the state is in a ‘Silent Emergency’.
The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 has a clear mandate for the ‘food and nutrition security in a life cycle approach’. As per the NFSA-2013, every state government should, by notification, constitute ‘State Food Commision for the purpose of monitoring and review of implementation of NFSA Act’. The Act prescribes that a minimum 67% of the state’s population should have access to key food and nutrition entitlements through Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) programmemes in the state. In compliance to the NFSA-2013, the Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, issued a notification dated 25th January’16, namely, ‘Odisha State Food Comission Rules, 2016’ and solicited public opinion. As prescribed in the NFSA-2013, the Commission will function as a key and powerful institution in the state, to ensure proper entitlements, access and control over food and nutrition programmes for the poor and marginalised. It will ensure transparency and public accountability, and will also ensure entitlements to the food and nutrition programmemes, as follows:
• Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Every person belonging to the priority households identified shall receive 5 kilograms of food grains per person per month at a subsidized price, and households covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojna are entitled to receive 35 kilograms of food grains per month at a subsidized price.
• Nutrition entitlements in Mid-Day Meal and ICDS Supplementary nutrition programme are as follows;
The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security, India after a detailed consultation, strongly urges the Government of Odisha to designate the Odisha Food Commission as the Odisha State Food and Nutrition Commission, and recommends the following changes in the draft State Food Commission Rules, 2016.
1. State Food Commission to be renamed as State Food and Nutrition Commission:
In light of the above statistics about the ‘Silent Emergency’ state of Odisha, it is important that the Food Commission moves beyond food security, and ensures nutrition security as well. Hence, the recommendation to change the name to ‘State Food and Nutrition Commission’ is made.
Similarly, the Rule can be renamed as ‘Odisha State Food and Nutrition Commission Rules, 2016.
2. Method of Appointment: Search Committee to have adequate representation from the civil society, tribal and women and influential voices of repute:
The new Commission would require expert members having knowledge in food and nutrition. In view of the representation of food and nutrition experts in the commission, we will recommend the Search Committee to have adequate representation from the civil society (should include tribal families) and influential voices from the food and nutrition sector having a proven record of work relating to the improvements of food and nutrition rights of the poor. They must also be familiar with the issues relating to malnutrition and hidden hunger. You may appreciate that Odisha has a large tribal population, constituting nearly 30% of the state population, and therefore, the Search Committee should have proper representation from the tribals and women.
3. State Commission Member: Adequate representation from the civil society; those who have a record of work relating to the improvement of food and nutrition rights of the poor:
National Food Security Act-2013 Section 16(2) clearly mandates the constitution of the Commission having a Chairperson and five other members, and a Member Secretary. We recommend the Government to include at least 4(four) members from Civil Society Orgnisations (CSOs), having demonstrated work record in food and nutrition rights of the poor, along with a Chairperson from the Civil Society. The State Commission should also ensure proper representations of tribals and women.
4. Member Secretary, a senior food and nutrition security professional and a permanent staff member of the Food and Nutrition Commission:
The draft Rule suggests that the Member Secretary shall hold such office on deputation. We strongly recommend that the Member Secretary shall be a senior Food and Nutrition Security professional, with a good track record at the field level, and be the permanent staff member of the Commission.
5. The Commission must have judicial power to regulate, monitor programmes and enforce the law and penalties
We have analysed the powers of the Commission mentioned in the draft ‘Rule’. Keeping in view the global and regional best practices and powers mentioned in the NFSA, 2013, we recommend the Commission to hold the following powers. We realise that this is a very crucial section of the ‘Rule’, and request the Government of Odisha to consider this without any dilution.
• Monitor and evaluate implementation of the Act in the state
• Either suo-moto or with the receipt of any complaint, shall investigate the violation of the entitlements and award penalties and punishments as deemed fit. The Commission must have powers to regulate and enforce measures appropriate to sustainable food and nutrition entitlements.
• Provide strategic directions to all the stakeholders and agencies involved in implementation of food and nutrition schemes, on access and control over services, supplies and entitlements relating to food and nutrition.
• Act as an appellate authority against all the grievances and orders issued.
6. Adequate and pre-approved Budget for the State Food and Nutrition Commission
The financial power of the Food Commission is mentioned in the draft ‘Rule’. However, we strongly recommend not only the specified budget duly agreed by the Commission, but also timely allocation of the funds, infrastructure, human and other resources for the Commission, so that the Commission can discharge its function for the best interest of the state, and in line with National Food Security Act. These provisions should be included in the ‘Rule’.
7. Secretarial, technical and professional staff for the State Food and Nutrition Commission
Monitoring the food and nutrition programmes would require professionally qualified staff members, who have substantial experience in food value chain, nutrition, women empowerment, food safety, quality assurance and quality control, public accountability and governance. The Food and Nutrition Commission would require a professionally managed, IT-enabled, monitoring and knowledge management team/structure in order to address appeals, grievances, and to ensure access to food and nutrition entitlements. It shall be the responsibility of the Government of Odisha to specify those structures and functions, and convergence mechanisms clearly in the ‘Rule’ for effective programme delivery and entitlement.
8. Provision and constitution of the working groups (WGs) for a sustainable food and nutrition security
We expect Odisha to be a pioneer in Food Security Law, and suggest incorporation of Working Group provisions as one of the key operating models for achieving Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security. We recommend constitution and effective functioning of the Working Groups (WGs), structured along themes, functions and sectors. These working groups are ‘theatres of action’ to support the Food and Nutrition Commission with achieving the mandate. We recommend the provision of eight working groups: 1. Essential Nutrition Interventions (ENIs); 2. Food Security; 3. Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); 4. Socially Responsible Business and the Role in Nutrition; 5. Human Resource Development in Nutrition; 6.Media and Information Communication Technology (ICT); 7. Accountability and Governance; 8. Rights, Gender and Equity.
9. Convergence and coordination between agriculture and nutrition:
In order to bring changes in the food and nutrition status of the marginalised population in Odisha, we recommend a strong linkage between agriculture and nutrition. The proposed Commission needs to work on agricultural remedies like bio-fortified crops, for specific nutritional maladies. These should be specified in the new ‘Rule’.
The effective implementation of the Food Security Act, can transform the nutrition and food security landscape in the state, and enable the state to be a global food and nutrition pioneer. The proactive steps by the Commission can mitigate hunger, chronic protein energy deficiency, and can address malnutrition and hidden hunger. The Commission will be a key institution to ensure transparency, and public accountability on nutrition and food security programmes.
About Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security
The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security, India (http://www.nutritioncoalition.in/) is a group of policy and programme leaders committed to fostering collaboration and evidence based advocacy for improved programmes to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security. More than 200 organisations, influential leaders and individuals of outstanding merits are associated with this Coalition.
For further information, please contact:
Basanta Kumar Kar, Senior Advisor