Treasures from the Jungle
India is a land of contrasts. 1.25 billion people live here. A few of them are very rich, more than half of the population lives in poverty. Four in ten Indian children are undernourished. One-third of the global population living in poverty lives in India. Although there has been success in almost halving the prevalence of child growth retardation in India in the last ten years, still one-third of all children in the world with growth retardation live in India. In the countryside, nutrition is rarely secure. This means that hunger is a latent threat for many people.
Climate Change and Marginalisation as a Cause of Hunger
One reason: Rainfed agriculture provides food for almost 40 percent of the Indian population, but this kind of agriculture is very vulnerable to drought. A consequence of climate change, which people in India feel keenly.
A further cause of hunger and poverty: Marginalisation. Girls, women, indigenous people and members of the lowest caste, so-called ‘untouchables’, are among the weakest in society. Many of them are limited in their human rights, such as the right to food, they attend school less often and have worse access to medical care.
Welthungerhilfe has worked in India for over 50 years. We are working to strengthen disadvantaged population groups in particular, such as women, indigenous peoples and smallholders.
‘Fight Hunger First’ Initiative
Today, the ‘Fight Hunger First’ initiative is one of our most important initiatives in India. The aim is to enable people to take their development into their own hands. For this purpose, local organisations are created (Community Based Organisations), which plan and implement all the necessary measures for their village community. They raise awareness about citizen and human rights, disseminate knowledge about healthy nutrition and sustainable agriculture, build schools, public health services and sanitary facilities.
This approach works! In 2016 there are over 900 active local organisations.
Hidden Treasures, Forgotten Food
A balanced diet is particularly important for women and children. Alongside the cultivated fields of the large-scale farmers and the multicoloured gardens of the smallholders, real treasures are hidden between large jungle trees. In the Jharkhand region, for example, the older women who still possess traditional knowledge collect leaves, roots, mushrooms, insects and fruits from the forest. These are classed as uncultivated foodstuffs, as they are not yet worked in the agricultural sense.
These forgotten foods could be an important piece of the puzzle in the fight against hunger in India, especially in the remote villages of the rural and indigenous population. The forest fruits provide important vitamins, minerals and fibres and are a valuable addition to the daily diet. But as this wealth is almost forgotten, together with local partners we are digging out the old knowledge about these hidden food treasures.