Voicing concern over chronic malnutrition among tribal children in the country, eminent speakers at a national conclave today sought concrete steps to synergies all efforts to effectively combat stunting in tribals through proper nourishment and sanitation.
The two-day meet, jointly organised by Union Tribal Affairs Ministry, Odisha Government and UNICEF, aimed at chalking out strategies to improve access of tribal children to food, health and sanitation.
"Progress will remain incomplete without taking the needs and aspirations of the tribal population into account and development is not possible with children being under nourished," Odisha's ST, SC Development minister Lal Bihari Himirika said inaugurating the conclave today.
Addressing malnutrition of children of the schedule tribes require continuous joint efforts by many Ministries and Departments to deliver results, he said.
Presenting his views, UNICEF Representative in India, Louis Georges Arsenault emphasised the need to focus on the high stunting rates among tribal children.
"India's tribal people continue to remain the most nutritionally deprived group in the country. Tribal children face multiple deprivations putting them at a much higher risk to become malnourished, challenging their growth and development," Arsenault said.
He said the conclave represented an important moment where people can collectively commit to ensure tribal children have equal chances to develop and grow to their full potential.
"This conclave is an indication of our resolve to make change happen," he said.
Lok Sabha MP Baijayant (Jay) Panda, Odisha ministers Sudam Marndi and Snehangini Chhuria, who were present, spoke in similar vein while dwelling upon the problems of stunting in states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.