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Accelerating progress toward reducing child malnutrition in India: A concept for action


  • von Braun, Joachim
  • Ruel, Marie
  • Gulati, Ashok


"1. The facts: Child malnutrition in India India is home to 40 percent of the world's malnourished children and 35 percent of the developing world's low-birth-weight infants; every year 2.5 million children die in India, accounting for one in five deaths in the world. More than half of these deaths could be prevented if children were well nourished. India's progress in reducing child malnutrition has been slow. The prevalence of child malnutrition in India deviates further from the expected level at the country's per capita income than in any other large developing country. 2. The challenge: Accelerating progress in reducing child malnutrition in India India has many nutrition and social safety net programs, some of which (such as Integrated Child Development Services [ICDS] and the Public Distribution System [PDS]) have had success in several states in addressing the needs of poor households. All of these programs have potential, but they do not form a comprehensive nutrition strategy, and they have not addressed the nutrition problem effectively so far. 3. Strategic choices for improved child nutrition India lacks a comprehensive nutrition strategy. Various choices for nutrition strategies can be considered. A review of some of the more successful country experiences suggests that all of them implemented complex, multisectoral actions with more or less emphasis on service-oriented nutrition policies (as in Indonesia), incentive-oriented nutrition policies linked to community or household participation and performance (as in Mexico), or mobilization-oriented nutrition policies (as in Thailand). These choices are not mutually exclusive. India now has the opportunity to “leapfrog” toward innovative nutritional improvement based on the experiences of other countries and on experiences within India itself. 4. Cooperation for policy actions To accelerate progress in reducing child malnutrition, India should focus on the following four cross-cutting strategic approaches: a. ensuring that economic growth and poverty reduction policies reach the poor; b. redesigning nutrition and health policies and programs by drawing on science and technology for nutritional improvement, strengthening their implementation, and increasing their coverage; c. increasing investments and actions in nutrition services for communities with the highest concentration of poor; and d. focusing programs on girls' and women's health and nutrition. IFPRI, in collaboration with Indian experts and international networks, could bring much-needed experience with programs and policies around the world to bear on this effort. An evidence-based, research-intensive approach with “learning while implementing”—which has shown success in other countries—is recommended. There is no time or reason to wait for taking action." from Text

Suggested Citation

  • von Braun, Joachim & Ruel, Marie & Gulati, Ashok, 2008. "Accelerating progress toward reducing child malnutrition in India: A concept for action," Research briefs 12, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:resbrf:12

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    Cited by:

    1. Ved, Rajani & Menon, Purnima, 2012. "Analyzing intersectoral convergence to improve child undernutrition in India: Development and application of a framework to examine policies in agriculture, health, and nutrition," IFPRI discussion papers 1208, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Joel Negin & Roseline Remans & Susan Karuti & Jessica Fanzo, 2009. "Integrating a broader notion of food security and gender empowerment into the African Green Revolution," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 1(3), pages 351-360, September.
    3. repec:fpr:resrep:2012ghienglish is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pathak, Praveen Kumar & Singh, Abhishek, 2011. "Trends in malnutrition among children in India: Growing inequalities across different economic groups," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 576-585, August.
    5. von Grebmer, Klaus & Saltzman, Amy & Birol, Ekin & Wiesman, Doris & Prasai, Nilam & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Menon, Purnima & Thompson, Jennifer & Sonntag, Andrea, 2014. "2014 Global Hunger Index: The challenge of hidden hunger," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-958-0 edited by Sonntag, Andrea & Neubauer, Larissa & Towey, Olive & von Grebmer, Klaus & Yin, Sandra.
    6. von Grebmer, Klaus & Headey, Derek & Bene, Christophe & Haddad, Lawrence & Olofinbiyi, Tolulope & Wiesmann, Doris & Fritschel, Heidi & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Foley, Connell & von Oppeln, Co, 2013. "2013 Global Hunger Index: The challenge of hunger: Building resilience to achieve food and nutrition security," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-951-1 edited by von Oppeln, Constanze & Labahn, Marius & Towey, Olive & von Grebmer, Klaus.
    7. repec:fpr:ifprib:2012ghienglish is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Masiero, Silvia, 2015. "Redesigning the Indian Food Security System through E-Governance: The Case of Kerala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 126-137.
    9. Sheetal Sekhri & Paul Landefeld, 2013. "Agricultural Trade, Institutions, and Depletion of Natural Resources," Virginia Economics Online Papers 405, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    10. von Grebmer, Klaus & Ringler, Claudia & Rosegrant, Mark W. & Olofinbiyi, Tolulope & Wiesmann, Doris & Fritschel, Heidi & Badiane, Ousmane & Torero, Maximo & Yohannes, Yisehac & Thompson, Jennifer & vo, 2012. "2012 Global hunger index: the challenge of hunger: Ensuring sustainable food security under land, water, and energy stresses," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 2012 GHI English.


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