“We had no idea that honey-ginger could be harmful for our children in any way possible,” says Savita, a resident from UP’s Ghazipur who, along with several other women from her locality, is learning a healthy lifestyle with the help of POSHAN Preraks. “There was no open conversation on the issue; people certainly knew that breast milk is good for newborns but now, thanks to Prerak Didi, we know that a baby should be fed only mother’s milk initially,” she adds. Like Savita, several other women from these 187 centres, are gaining healthy insights through community dialogues organised by POSHAN Preraks.
POSHAN Abhiyaan is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022. The objective of POSHAN Abhiyaan is to reduce stunting in identified districts of India with the highest malnutrition burden, especially among pregnant women, lactating mothers and infants. In collaboration with UNICEF, Digital Empowerment Foundation is the implementation partner for POSHAN Abhiyaan in 10 states.
“We had no idea that honey and ginger home remedy could be harmful for our children in any way possible,” says Savita, a resident from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur who, along with several other women from her locality, is learning a healthy lifestyle with the help of POSHAN Preraks. “There was no open conversation on the issue; people certainly knew that breast milk is good for newborns but now, thanks to Prerak Didi, we know that a baby should be fed only mother’s milk in initial six months,” she adds.
Like Savita, several other women from these 187 centres scattered across India, are gaining healthy insights through community dialogues organised by POSHAN Preraks.
“There were myths especially around exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding and on adolescents health and hygiene which were broken through the means of these community dialogues,” Savita explains.
As a part of this project, 15 master trainers were trained by a team of specialized professionals in Delhi. The entire project that was kick started in the month of December last year, was spread across four phases: planning, training, implementation and reporting. After a three day training of trainers in Delhi, there was a second level training which was undertaken by these Master Trainers at their respective training centres. As of now, a total of 187 POSHAN Preraks have been trained as a part of the project at 187 DEF locations.
Each POSHAN Prerak undertook 16 Community Dialogues wherein nearly 15-20 beneficiaries were targeted. Thereby each POSHAN Prerak delivered the communication material’s information to approximately 200 beneficiaries. The communication material that included – dialogue cards, posters, pamphlets and a brochure – was curated by UNICEF targeting the four beneficiary groups.
POSHAN Preraks—with great zeal and enthusiasm—have successfully organised community dialogue sessions on various themes around curbing malnutrition and health well-being. During these dialogues, several narratives were shared by the participants of the beneficiaries (pregnant women, lactating mother, children and adolescents) around their own inhibitions, myths, biases and fears, via a section on ‘Meri POSHAN Kahani’. Further, information dissemination on a wide scale on nutrition has been done across by these POSHAN Preraks. These have been captured via photography, videography and MeraApp. The narratives of the beneficiaries shall eventually be able to give an analysis on the impact that these dialogues were able to make at the 187 village locations where the POSHAN Preraks were involved to initiate conversations around brining nutrition in a holistic manner in the lives of especially those affected with malnutrition.
During the course of programmes’s implementation phase, several stories of change came to the fore as well. The rural women participants who came to attend these dialogues as well as the POSHAN Preraks facilitating them were touched by something or the other. POSHAN Preraks—who were mostly women—faced and overcome some difficulties while addressing health issues in these areas as the subject is still considered “sensitive” to talk about.
One such instance is from Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh. The local POSHAN Prerak here Pooja Pandey is synergetic and believes that the Community Dialogues are a very effective way to reach out to women in villages and educate them on health. “I take it as my responsibility to talk to my fellow villagers,” she says. However, her efforts in this direction did see roadblocks initially when her family, especially brother, expressed his reluctance for her participation in the programme as the theme made him uncomfortable. “People in villages still don’t feel comfortable discussing these issues in public domain,” he said explaining how there is still stigma around certain topics of health. But with progression of time, on observing the increase in knowledge component and confidence level of his sister, towards the many concluding dialogues, Ashutosh also joined in, to support his sister in disseminating information to his villagers.