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India women gathering plants

CHHATTISGARH, INDIA: In Narayanpur, a tribal district in the central state of Chhattisgargh, India, women and children face high rates of malnutrition. Nearly half of children under five, and 59% of women aged 15-49 are anaemic. Covered with dense forests and highly prone to internal armed conflicts, the area is sometimes inaccessible due to bombings or cross-firing. Despite these grave conditions, Pratibha Sharma, the district’s child development protection officer, is determined to provide health and nutrition services to the local villagers.

When Pratibha heard about Nutrition International’s Weekly Iron Folic Acid supplementation (WIFAS) program in Chhattisgarh, she contacted the organization, believing it could make a real difference in her district. Nutrition International provided her training and helped in reporting, recording and supply chain management of the iron and folic acid tablets.

“Earlier, I gave supplements only when I received the tablets and reported only the number of tablets distributed. However, with the help of Nutrition International I was able to improve my approach towards the implementation of the WIFAS program. I am proud that I am able to fully achieve the targets of the program.”

Pratibha supervises all Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) in the 180 Anganwadi, or government-run nutrition centres, in her district. She regularly conducts field visits to understand the gaps between the community and the AWWs, and helps to bridge them through counselling and supply availability. A true change agent, Pratibha encourages the AWWs to link the WIFA program to the tribal culture to increase acceptance of the program.

Pratibha provides WIFA supplementation to more than 900 out of school girls. Her dedication and willpower to combat the extreme conditions in Narayanpur have motivated at least 20 of those girls to return to school.