The Nutrition camps are community-based nutrition programmes for children who are at risk of protein-energy malnutrition. The intervention follows two approaches: one that encourages local knowledge and practices of child care and the other that educates mothers on cooking habits and on nutrition rich recipes for malnourished children. Undernourished children between 6 months and 3 years are screened and identified based on their detailed anthropometric measurements of height, weight and MUAC and are referred to the nutrition camps.
This programme has been very effective because of its localized relevance and cost-effectiveness in rehabilitating malnourished children. Evidence shows that a large number of children affected by Severe Acute Malnutrition or SAM (without infection) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) can be treated in their communities without being admitted to a health facility or therapeutic feeding centre. The objectives of the camp are to rehabilitate malnourished children, to sustain the rehabilitation and to prevent future malnutrition in the community.
Women learning about health and nutrition at a camp
“My child’s birth weight was 2 Kg and with passing days he became more weak and sick,” recollects Kousali Ullaka of Lanji village, Rayagada district. “After attending the camp, I was provided with a health mix of flattened rice, wheat and Bengal gram and I used to make a porridge out of it and feed my child regularly. The weight improved but he still was not in the green zone. I was advised to go to the MTC in Rayagada, 25 km from my village. I stayed at the MTC for 2 weeks after which my son recovered completely.”
Every camp is followed by active follow-ups through home visits till the child is recovered and has achieved normal levels of nutrition.
Tricolour foods to improve diversity
Significant Outputs of the Nutrition Camps
92% MAM children recorded a weight gain of 500 gm to 1000 gms at the end of the nutrition camps across all camps
28% MAM children recovered to the normal level in MP and 193 SAM children were referred to district MTC in Banswara
Mothers who participated breastfed the children for longer period and made a transition to balanced diet/ tricolour foods
Families are now washing their hands before eating and after defecation
Families are no longer hesitant to send children to the ICDS centre
Mothers perceived a better bonding among themselves as they observed and advised each other about feeding habits
* Excerpts from a flyer on the topic: Nutrition Camps for community based management of acute malnutrition