Ayana: Building Saliency for Nutrition in Rajasthan

Ayana, which means ‘good path’ is a partnership project between the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and The Antara Foundation. The program aims to build saliency for nutrition in Rajasthan.

India has one of the highest rates of undernutrition in the world. One child in five (19 per cent) is born with low birth-weight, 29 percent of children under five are underweight, 39 percent are stunted and 15 percent are wasted. Sixty percent of India’s burden of undernutrition is found in six low-income States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh).

Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from a woman’s pregnancy to that child’s second birthday – can lock them into a lifetime of health and social challenges that are devastating and irreversible. During this critical period, if children don’t get the vital ingredients they need to grow their bodies and develop their brains, they are not only more likely to get sick, and die, from diseases throughout their whole life, but they will also earn less than their peers when they enter adulthood.

Good nutrition is crucial to the health of the mother and child. It builds immune systems in children, strengthens their cognitive skills and helps them maximise their potential. Healthier children grow up to be healthier adults, helping build strong communities and more productive economies.

Preventing under-nutrition however is challenging due to barriers such as social and cultural norms, gender bias, poverty, and availability of nutritious food. This coupled with a lack of awareness about appropriate and adequate nutrition makes tackling malnutrition a challenge.

In Rajasthan, 36.3 percent of babies are born with low birth weight. The prevalence of stunting is 36.5 percent and underweight 31.5 percent amongst children under five.

CIFF’s Nutrition Strategy focuses on building saliency and encouraging action for nutrition, namely; changing the narrative around nutrition; increasing financial resources; increasing accountability; and mobilising leaders and champions. The Antara Foundation’s presence in Rajasthan enables us to support CIFF in their initiative towards improving building saliency for nutrition in a sustained manner in Rajasthan.

Through Ayana, both CIFF and The Antara Foundation are working towards changing several misperceptions that currently exist about nutrition and raising knowledge and resources for effective nutrition services.