“Kerala has made great progress in terms of development. Yet, child nutrition remains a concern. It is imperative for the State to go beyond food production and focus on nutritional aspects of food”-Shri S M Vijayanand, former Chief Secretary, Kerala.
Civil Society Organisations are often regarded as the third arm of the society and anchor crucial roles including advocacy, information dissemination, awareness generation and empowering rightholders. These organisations are vested with significant potential to transform the food and nutrition landscape in any state and have been at the forefront to demand for rights specific legislations including the National Food Security Act, 2013. In order to promote the role of civil society organisations further, particularly in the rights based discourse on realising food and nutrition security, the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University has facilitated engagement with a wide spectrum of stakeholders and institutions, to strengthen the role of such actors in advancing the state of food and nutrition security in the country.
In pursuit of the same, the Centre for Child and the Law (CCL), National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in collaboration with the Kerala State Food Commission organised a one-day consultation on the “Role of Civil Society Organisations in Strengthening the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 in Kerala” on 16th June 2023 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The consultation, spanning over four sessions, was inaugurated by Shri S M Vijayanand, former Chief Secretary of Kerala. The discussion was steered towards a rights based approach, encompassing pillars/determinants of Right to Food and principles governing the same. It also provided an opportunity to delve into nutritional and health based indicators of Kerala, highlighting districts with high burden of undernutrition.
As per the State Nutrition Profile Data Note released by NITI AYOG in November 2021, all 14 districts in Kerala have been identified as districts with high burden of anaemia among pregnant women aged 15-49 years. This particular indicator has witnessed an increase of 8% since the 2015-16. That apart, atleast five out of fourteen districts have multiple demonstrated high burden of stunting, wasting, severe wasting and underweight among children aged below five years of age. The data presented as part of the consultation drew attention to Kerala being ranked 11th among 20 states in the general category and union territories, according to the State Ranking Index for NFSA, released by the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.
The consultation highlighted several barriers associated with the implementation of NFSA, 2013 in Kerala. It also provided a crucial opportunity to establish a bridge of communication between the State Food Commission and Civil Society.