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How Women’s Collectives In Odisha Villages Are Driving Health Reforms for Young Mothers

Swagata Yadavar

Monomita Nag, 35, a community resource person, instructing pregnant women on dietary diversity using a ‘tiranga’ booklet. Dhana Anjaria (second from right) went from weighing 41 kg to 54 kg after following Nag’s advice

Koraput and Angul, Odisha: Mild winter sunlight streamed through the banyan trees under which Dhana Anjaria sat cross-legged with two other pregnant women of Dumuriput village in Koraput district, 500 km west of state capital Bhubaneswar. They were listening with rapt attention to tips on nutrition for pregnant women.
Monomita Nag, 35, a community resource person (CRP), was instructing the group on the importance of dietary diversity using a booklet coloured orange, green and white. These are the colours of the tiranga (the Indian flag), but Anjaria, who knew the booklet by heart, had decoded other meanings from it. “Orange is for milk, egg, meat and pulses, white for roots, tubers and cereals, and green is for vegetables,” said Anjaria, 21, seven months pr…
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In Bihar Schools, Student-Gardeners Improve Nutrition, Health Metrics

Students of Jalalgarh middle school in Purnia district, in eastern Bihar, queue up to wash hands before eating their mid-day meals, November 21, 2019
Purnia, Bihar: When she grows up, 14-year-old Amita Kumari wants to become a police officer just like her mother. The class eight student of a government middle school in Kasba, a town in eastern Bihar’s Purnia district, knows that she needs to be “strong” in order to become a police officer. At 5 feet 3 inches, Amita, whose height is ideal for her age as per the World Health Organisation standards, is an exception in her class. A majority of her classmates are shorter than her. “I used to dislike vegetables earlier,” Amita said, “but now I eat a lot of them because I want to grow strong.” Amita changed her diet after her school teacher started taking a class on the importance of dietary fruits and vegetables, and when she started helping to maintain a vegetable garden in the school backyard. “They taught us how to grow our own…