79% of Indian households reported ‘food insecurity’, 25% said it was severe, survey finds

A total of 79% of Indian households across 14 states that responded to the second Hunger Watch survey reported some form of “food insecurity” in 2021. As many as 25% of families reported facing “severe food insecurity”. , showed the investigation report released on Wednesday.

The survey was conducted between December 2021 and January 2022.

The survey, conducted by a group of organizations including the Right to Food Campaign and the Center for Equity Studies, calculated “food insecurity” based on the global scale of experience of the food insecurity developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In this method, respondents are asked eight questions, such as if they were worried about not having enough food to eat or if they were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food due to lack of money or other resources.

The Hunger Watch survey then assigned each “yes” answer a score of one and zero to “no”. An overall score of 1 to 3 on this scale meant that the household experienced “mild food insecurity”, 4 to 6 meant that it experienced “moderate food insecurity” and 7 to 8 indicated that there was “food insecurity”. serious”.

The survey also showed that 31% of respondents reported “mild food insecurity” and 23% as “moderate food insecurity”.

He said more than 60% of respondents were worried about not having enough food, were unable to eat healthy or nutritious foods, or could only eat a few foods.

“About 45% of respondents said their household had run out of food in the month before the survey,” the report said. He also said about 33% of respondents said they or someone in their household had to skip a meal.

The survey was conducted among 6,697 respondents from 14 states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and West Bengal.

The report says 41% of households surveyed said the nutritional quality of their diets had deteriorated from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

It also said that the income levels of 66% of respondents had fallen from those before the pandemic which broke out in January 2020. The survey indicated that 60% of families whose income had fallen, said that their current income was less than half of what it was before the pandemic.

“Almost 45% of households had outstanding debts,” he said. “Among those who have unpaid debts, 21% of the total respondents have a total amount of debts of more than Rs 50,000.”

The report also indicates that while 90% of households that had a ration card reported receiving food grains, 25% of those eligible reported receiving no benefits from the midday meal program and integrated development services. the child.

He said that only 13% of eligible respondents said they had regularly received Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) maternity benefits since the start of the pandemic. The figure was 29% for pension payments among households with an eligible member.

Impact of Covid-19 on children and health

The report showed that 3% of those surveyed lost a family member to the coronavirus infection, but only 45% of them received compensation. He said 32% of households said a member had stopped working or lost their salary due to the pandemic.

The survey indicates that at least one child in six households has dropped out of school and one in 16 has entered the labor market.

A total of 23% of households also incurred significant health expenditures, he added. “Among these households, 13% incurred an expenditure of more than Rs 50,000 and 35% of more than Rs 10,000.”


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Hunger Watch Requests

In view of the situation in the country, Hunger Watch demanded that the Public Distribution System be universalized to provide rations to anyone who requests them. He also said the public distribution system should be expanded to include millet and other nutritious products such as pulses and oils, as they are procured at the minimum support price.

The group said Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana should be extended until the pandemic continues and the distribution of edible oils and pulses is included in its provisions.

“Hot ready meals under ICDS and midday meals should be restarted immediately,” he said. “Budgets for these programs should make adequate provision for the inclusion of eggs and a nutrient-dense diet in meals. Hot cooked meals should be extended to children under three years of age through nurseries. and pregnant and breastfeeding women through community kitchens.

The group said the central government contribution for social security pensions should be increased to at least Rs 2,000.

He also demanded that the wages of all workers providing care, such as Anganwadi workers, be increased and that decent working conditions be provided to them.

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