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  • Writer's pictureSamanta



Tanya: Assalaam waalekum didi, kya haal hai aapke? Masar bibi: Sab khairiyat hai, tu apne suna? Tanya: Mai bhi badiya hu didi. Tabiyat kaisi hai aapki? Masar bibi: Pichle kuch dino se shareer me dard hai aur kamjori bhi mehsoos ho rahi hai. Tanya: Acha! To yeh batao ki aaj aapne khaane me kya banaaya hai ?

Masar bibi: ( smiling and talking) Aaj maine Kadu (a traditional dish made with local herbs and milk) banaya hai.

Tanya: Arae didi, maine aapko pehle bhi bataya tha na ki kadu me kuch taqat ka nahi hota. Aapki kamjori ka kaaran yahi hai ki aap koi sabzi nahi khaate. Aisa karne se bahut taqleef ho jaeygi.

Masar bibi: Jab se lockdown laga hai yaha par sabzi nahi mil rahi. Aajkal sabke ghar me kadi aur kadu se he guzaara chal raha hai.

In the past few months there have been conversations around availability of vegetables, fruits and food grains etc. The issue of access, availability and affordability have been highlighted by the women in the regular meetings. These triggered the issues of health, nutrition influenced by the eating habits. This has been one of our focus points over the last couple of years.

COVID has impacted the world at all levels in day to day living. One of the major impacts it has had is that it has brought health as the moot point of conversations on a day to day basis. The associated impact on health due to COVID, food habits, medicines, health services all have gotten highlighted. For communities living in remote areas there are a host of challenges - 1. Access to health 2. Understanding of health due to lack of Education 3. Availability of services (testing, medicines, nutritious food etc). As we carried on our work with the women we manufactured consent and conversation on nutrition as it was a problem that could be localised and solved by community ownership and action!

The life of people living in the forest is different from that of urban & rural populace. Unlike rural areas, people in the forest are not into farming which makes them dependent on the market for their daily needs of vegetables. Once a week a vegetable vendor comes inside the forest to sell his produce. But this practice took a halt during lockdowns imposed by the government due to Covid. This hampered the accessibility of vegetables to the people resulting in deterioration of health due to lack of nutrients.

After due deliberation and discussion with the community we at Samanta devised a "Food&Health Resilience Strategy". The focus was on helping the community attain good health but without increasing their financial burden. We then introduced the idea of "Nutrition garden". Thereafter we executed a step by step approach.

Step 1 : Understand local ecology (soil, weather, seasons etc)

Step 2 : Identify local produce

Step 3 : Set up pilot nutrition gardens

Step 4 : Discuss the learnings with women from the pilots

Step 5 : Develop consensus on a Seed Chat (Season : Month : Seed)

Step 6 : Procure seeds

Step 7 : Train women on - a. land preparation b. usage of water c. sowing d. upkeep

Step 8 : Seed distribution was initiated

Step 9 : Sowing was done (regular monitoring and evaluation leading to support)

Step 10 : Consolidate experiences was feedback and support

We have provided seeds (seasonal, high quality) to 213 women of 7 vegetables. These have been used to set up nutrition garden on the land prepared by the women adjacent to their "Deras". They are given continuous training on garden management, harvesting and creating a seed bank for themselves.

One of the women from the community says, “Nutrition garden is a ray of hope for all of us as it will not only provide good health to us but also reduce economic burden.”


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