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78 percent Maharashtra households suffered food insecurity: Hunger Watch II report

As many as 20 percent of surveyed households suffer severe food insecurity, with most deprivations focused in urban areas

Sabrangindia 04 Jun 2022

Maharashtra
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

As many as 78 percent of households surveyed in the Hunger Watch Survey II reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. Surveyors like the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan fear that skyrocketing prices, growing unemployment and disempowering policies like labour codes will only worsen the situation.

Like its preceding survey, the Hunger Watch-II conducted for 1,225 respondents in 17 districts of Maharashtra between December 2021 and January 2022. It seeks to document the hunger situation six months after the devastating second wave of Covid-19 in India. The survey’s interim report stated that 36 percent of households (HH) reported mild food insecurity, 23 percent HH reported moderate food insecurity and 20 percent HH reported severe food insecurity. This condition was more in urban HH (79 percent) than in rural HH (77 percent).

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about upliftment of the poor, the survey showed that over 50 percent HH were unable to eat healthy or nutritious food. They could eat only a few kinds of food in November 2021.

About 46 percent (around 490) of respondents said their household ran out of food in the month preceding the survey. One in five persons reported that someone in their household had to skip a meal or sleep without eating in the month preceding the survey.

Overall decline in nutritional quality and quantity

As many as 48 percent HH said their cereal consumption in the preceding month was insufficient. In urban areas, this number was 56 percent, while in rural areas 40 percent HH suffered. A total of 67 percent HH reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Religion-wise, HHs may be divided as 34 percent Hindus, 33 percent Muslims, 22 percent adivasis and 9 percent Buddhists. Yet, 84 percent Muslim HH, 78 percent Hindu HH, 74 percent Buddhist HH and 65 percent Adivasi HH reported food insecurity. Further 34 percent Muslim HH reported severe food insecurity followed by 32 percent Buddhist HH and 14 percent among Adivasi HH.

“However, even 17 % facing food insecurity is quite significant. 82 percent HH from general category which includes majority of Muslim households faced food insecurity, followed by 77 percent SC HH,” said the report.

Similarly, consumption of nutrient rich foods was poor. 60 percent HH said they ate less than 2-3 nutritious meals a month. Compared to pre-pandemic times, 57 percent respondents said that the nutritional quality and quantity of food consumed had deteriorated. Again, the figures were higher in urban areas.

Then 54 percent HH could not afford cooking gas in the month preceding the survey. Overall 90 percent of HH headed by single women reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. 37 percent of them experienced severe food insecurity.

It may be noted that the percentage of households who reported sleeping on an empty stomach in November 2021 was highest (about 30 percent) among the General category households and lowest (15 percent) among the Schedule Tribes. However, a large majority of respondents said they feared the situation would worsen in the next three months.

Loss of income

The survey conducted by Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath and Amit Basole found that around 75 percent of self-employed and wage workers suffered a loss in employment, excluding farmers. Nearly 7 in 10 said they consume less food than before Covid-19.

The report estimated that an additional 23 crore individuals fell below the ₹ 375 daily wage threshold. In the second wave, employment among casual workers fell by 24 pp, compared to 18 pp among the self-employed, and 14 pp among salaried workers.

As many as 95 percent HH earning less than ₹ 7,000 experienced food insecurity followed by 80 percent of those earning over ₹ 7,000. A majority of people i.e., 35 percent of the INR 3,000-7,000 category faced severe food insecurity and belonged mostly to urban areas.

Two years into the pandemic, about 75 percent of respondents reported that their income had decreased. 68 percent said their income was reduced to half. It declined more in urban areas with 76 percent respondents than in rural areas with 75 percent respondents. This was higher among the poorer HH with income less than ₹ 7,000.

Overall, 64 percent HH with working members said that their current incomes are less than half pre-pandemic levels. Close to 56 percent HH had some outstanding debt. Among those, 25 percent respondents have debts higher than ₹ 50,000. Moreover, 59 percent of single women HH reported outstanding debt.

A total of 93 percent of the particularly vulnerable group HH suffered decreased income during the pandemic. Further, 82 percent OBC, about 74 percent general, SC and ST categories reported income decline.

Impact on health and children

Around 309 HH reported incurring major health expenditure. Out of these 20 percent HH incurred health costs of ₹ 10,000-20,000, another 13 percent spent ₹ 20,000-50,000 on health and 19 percent HH spent over ₹ 50,000 on health.

As many as 34 percent of total HH reported that a member had stopped working due to Covid-19. Moreover, 59 HH said that someone died in their family. Only 32 HH received death certificates that mentioned Covid-19. Worse still, only 17 HH received compensation.

Meanwhile, childcare also showed concerning data with at least 1 in 5 households reporting their children as drop-outs. 8 percent of households said their children had entered the workforce.

“These numbers are calculated from the full sample, some households of which might not have young children, and hence are likely to be conservative estimates of the impact on child education and labour,” said the report.

Government Programmes and HW demands

Despite these persisting problems, the report agreed that safety nets like PDS provided great relief to poor communities. 86 percent of HH had ration cards although 2 percent reported that their ration cards were cancelled sans reason.

“Overall 72 percent of the Households received ration every month at the state level. However, as compared to rural areas where 83 percent HH received ration every month in urban areas only 59 percent of HH received ration every month,” said the report.

About 40 percent HH reported that they did not get anything under the ICDS and midday meal schemes. Similarly, about 90 percent eligible HH reported that they received ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Yet only 61 percent HH reported that they received ration under PMGKAY every month. Only 8 percent of eligible HH reported that they received pension. As an exception, the latter was higher in rural areas.

For all this, the report called for strengthening of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and setting-up systems for decentralised procurement of a wide variety of food crops while linking these to food distribution schemes such as PDS, mid-day meals and ICDS.

Particularly in the case of PDS, the organisations recommended that the ration scheme be extended to migrant workers, homeless, sex workers, trans people and all vulnerable communities without ration cards. As per SC order, state wise quotas should be re-determined in light of the increase in population. In the same manner, the PMGKAY should be extended till such time that the pandemic continues, with the provision of edible oils and pulses to each household. It called for immediate implementation of the June 29, 2021 Supreme Court order that called for dry ration to all migrant workers who are non-ration card holders and community kitchens.

Regarding the National Food Security Act 2013, the report called for maternity entitlements to be restored. The Act also calls for social audits in every district. Further, child-care services can be expanded by making adequate budgetary provisions for anganwadi-cum-creches, expansion of the National Creche scheme, creches under the NREGA and so on.

In case of the latter, the government should set aside adequate funds as required per family throughout the year and ensure timely payment of wages. It also suggested a minimum 200 days of work under the scheme and increased reach of the programme.

“Even in urban India, wages for casual work remain abysmally low. Given the lack of social protection and the increasingly private provision of public goods like healthcare and education, a rise in the wage rate from very low levels is not only desirable but urgently needed. As such, there is an urgent need to create a National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme,” said the report.

Related:

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Rajasthan: Experts call for urgent need to review State Food Commission

Do farmers’ demands benefit India’s hungry population?

 

78 percent Maharashtra households suffered food insecurity: Hunger Watch II report

As many as 20 percent of surveyed households suffer severe food insecurity, with most deprivations focused in urban areas

Maharashtra
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

As many as 78 percent of households surveyed in the Hunger Watch Survey II reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. Surveyors like the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan fear that skyrocketing prices, growing unemployment and disempowering policies like labour codes will only worsen the situation.

Like its preceding survey, the Hunger Watch-II conducted for 1,225 respondents in 17 districts of Maharashtra between December 2021 and January 2022. It seeks to document the hunger situation six months after the devastating second wave of Covid-19 in India. The survey’s interim report stated that 36 percent of households (HH) reported mild food insecurity, 23 percent HH reported moderate food insecurity and 20 percent HH reported severe food insecurity. This condition was more in urban HH (79 percent) than in rural HH (77 percent).

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about upliftment of the poor, the survey showed that over 50 percent HH were unable to eat healthy or nutritious food. They could eat only a few kinds of food in November 2021.

About 46 percent (around 490) of respondents said their household ran out of food in the month preceding the survey. One in five persons reported that someone in their household had to skip a meal or sleep without eating in the month preceding the survey.

Overall decline in nutritional quality and quantity

As many as 48 percent HH said their cereal consumption in the preceding month was insufficient. In urban areas, this number was 56 percent, while in rural areas 40 percent HH suffered. A total of 67 percent HH reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Religion-wise, HHs may be divided as 34 percent Hindus, 33 percent Muslims, 22 percent adivasis and 9 percent Buddhists. Yet, 84 percent Muslim HH, 78 percent Hindu HH, 74 percent Buddhist HH and 65 percent Adivasi HH reported food insecurity. Further 34 percent Muslim HH reported severe food insecurity followed by 32 percent Buddhist HH and 14 percent among Adivasi HH.

“However, even 17 % facing food insecurity is quite significant. 82 percent HH from general category which includes majority of Muslim households faced food insecurity, followed by 77 percent SC HH,” said the report.

Similarly, consumption of nutrient rich foods was poor. 60 percent HH said they ate less than 2-3 nutritious meals a month. Compared to pre-pandemic times, 57 percent respondents said that the nutritional quality and quantity of food consumed had deteriorated. Again, the figures were higher in urban areas.

Then 54 percent HH could not afford cooking gas in the month preceding the survey. Overall 90 percent of HH headed by single women reported one or the other kind of food insecurity. 37 percent of them experienced severe food insecurity.

It may be noted that the percentage of households who reported sleeping on an empty stomach in November 2021 was highest (about 30 percent) among the General category households and lowest (15 percent) among the Schedule Tribes. However, a large majority of respondents said they feared the situation would worsen in the next three months.

Loss of income

The survey conducted by Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath and Amit Basole found that around 75 percent of self-employed and wage workers suffered a loss in employment, excluding farmers. Nearly 7 in 10 said they consume less food than before Covid-19.

The report estimated that an additional 23 crore individuals fell below the ₹ 375 daily wage threshold. In the second wave, employment among casual workers fell by 24 pp, compared to 18 pp among the self-employed, and 14 pp among salaried workers.

As many as 95 percent HH earning less than ₹ 7,000 experienced food insecurity followed by 80 percent of those earning over ₹ 7,000. A majority of people i.e., 35 percent of the INR 3,000-7,000 category faced severe food insecurity and belonged mostly to urban areas.

Two years into the pandemic, about 75 percent of respondents reported that their income had decreased. 68 percent said their income was reduced to half. It declined more in urban areas with 76 percent respondents than in rural areas with 75 percent respondents. This was higher among the poorer HH with income less than ₹ 7,000.

Overall, 64 percent HH with working members said that their current incomes are less than half pre-pandemic levels. Close to 56 percent HH had some outstanding debt. Among those, 25 percent respondents have debts higher than ₹ 50,000. Moreover, 59 percent of single women HH reported outstanding debt.

A total of 93 percent of the particularly vulnerable group HH suffered decreased income during the pandemic. Further, 82 percent OBC, about 74 percent general, SC and ST categories reported income decline.

Impact on health and children

Around 309 HH reported incurring major health expenditure. Out of these 20 percent HH incurred health costs of ₹ 10,000-20,000, another 13 percent spent ₹ 20,000-50,000 on health and 19 percent HH spent over ₹ 50,000 on health.

As many as 34 percent of total HH reported that a member had stopped working due to Covid-19. Moreover, 59 HH said that someone died in their family. Only 32 HH received death certificates that mentioned Covid-19. Worse still, only 17 HH received compensation.

Meanwhile, childcare also showed concerning data with at least 1 in 5 households reporting their children as drop-outs. 8 percent of households said their children had entered the workforce.

“These numbers are calculated from the full sample, some households of which might not have young children, and hence are likely to be conservative estimates of the impact on child education and labour,” said the report.

Government Programmes and HW demands

Despite these persisting problems, the report agreed that safety nets like PDS provided great relief to poor communities. 86 percent of HH had ration cards although 2 percent reported that their ration cards were cancelled sans reason.

“Overall 72 percent of the Households received ration every month at the state level. However, as compared to rural areas where 83 percent HH received ration every month in urban areas only 59 percent of HH received ration every month,” said the report.

About 40 percent HH reported that they did not get anything under the ICDS and midday meal schemes. Similarly, about 90 percent eligible HH reported that they received ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Yet only 61 percent HH reported that they received ration under PMGKAY every month. Only 8 percent of eligible HH reported that they received pension. As an exception, the latter was higher in rural areas.

For all this, the report called for strengthening of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and setting-up systems for decentralised procurement of a wide variety of food crops while linking these to food distribution schemes such as PDS, mid-day meals and ICDS.

Particularly in the case of PDS, the organisations recommended that the ration scheme be extended to migrant workers, homeless, sex workers, trans people and all vulnerable communities without ration cards. As per SC order, state wise quotas should be re-determined in light of the increase in population. In the same manner, the PMGKAY should be extended till such time that the pandemic continues, with the provision of edible oils and pulses to each household. It called for immediate implementation of the June 29, 2021 Supreme Court order that called for dry ration to all migrant workers who are non-ration card holders and community kitchens.

Regarding the National Food Security Act 2013, the report called for maternity entitlements to be restored. The Act also calls for social audits in every district. Further, child-care services can be expanded by making adequate budgetary provisions for anganwadi-cum-creches, expansion of the National Creche scheme, creches under the NREGA and so on.

In case of the latter, the government should set aside adequate funds as required per family throughout the year and ensure timely payment of wages. It also suggested a minimum 200 days of work under the scheme and increased reach of the programme.

“Even in urban India, wages for casual work remain abysmally low. Given the lack of social protection and the increasingly private provision of public goods like healthcare and education, a rise in the wage rate from very low levels is not only desirable but urgently needed. As such, there is an urgent need to create a National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme,” said the report.

Related:

Just gratuity not enough: Anganwadi workers

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Rajasthan: Experts call for urgent need to review State Food Commission

Do farmers’ demands benefit India’s hungry population?

 

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