Governance & Resource
Kabirdham district (earlier known as Kawardha district) is one of the 16 administrative districts of Chhattisgarh state. According to the 2011 census Kabirdham District has a population of 822239 constituting 3.22 percent of the state population. The economy of Kawardha is predominantly agrarian. There are four blocks in Kabirdham – Kawardha, Bodla, Pandariya and Sahaspurlohara with higher concentration of primitive tribes such as the Baigas in Bodla and Pandariya blocks. Although the Gond and Baiga tribes dominate the populace in these two blocks, their economy is not very stable and is largely centered on forest resources. They are predominantly engaged in the primary sector - agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry related activities. Scattered habitation in mountainous terrains and dense forests makes it difficult for service providers to reach the communities and vice versa. The situation gets worse during monsoons when many of these habitations are virtually cut off from the mainland for three to four months owing to landslides and overflowing water sources. There are 99 Panchayats in the Bodla block and 115 Panchayats in the Pandariya block. Northern part of the district, particularly, is poverty-stricken and hunger-prone zone, which lies in Bodla block and, to some extent, in Pandaria block.
Samerth works in the Gram Panchayats that have extremely low Human Development Index according to the Swasthya Panchayat Yojana survey 2010 of Chattisgarh. The HDI index is based on issues like availability of Institutional delivery, provision of complementary feeding, pregnant women using mosquito nets, availability of hand pumps and clean water, toilets facilities, implementation of MGNREGA work , incidence of child malnutrition, and infant deaths.
Samerth is providing nutrition to 709 children of the Balmitra Kendras and Support Class in Bodla, Pandariya, Kota, Lormi and Gaurella blocks.
One important dimension of poverty in tribal Chhattisgarh was found to be the situation of chronic hunger and food insecurity. The major brunt of these problems is borne by women and children. It gets reflected in terms of extremely high malnutrition rates amongst children and women. As per NFHS-3 data, 47% of under-3 children in Chhattisgarh are underweight (>-2SD) and 40% of women have BMI below 18.5. Our own surveys in two tribal blocks (Bodla and Pandariya) show 65% to 75% children as underweight (by IAP standards) and around 50% of women having BMI below 18.5. The social appreciation of ICDS as an essential entitlement as well as of malnutrition as a critical well-being issue is still inadequate and requires intensive community level action and advocacy.
The situation worsens as one climbs higher up in the Maikal mountain range (also mining area – Huge Bauxite mines owned by Vedanta). For example, in malnutrition, these areas – Kesmarda, Amanara, Larbakki (Bodla) and Sendurkhar, Sarpani (Pandariya) are worse off by more than 20 percent points on most dimensions. The tribals in mountains face a similar situation regarding access to health care and nutrition services thus have higher rates of morbidity and mortality. The IMR in the two blocks according to government figures is 4.9%. Of the 83 infant deaths recorded in Kawardha in the year 2010-11, 48 occurred in Bodla alone and of the 18 maternal deaths in the same year, 5 occurred in Bodla and 8 in Pandariya (source: www.kawardha.gov.in). The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is currently estimated at 4 deaths per 1,000 births. 40% of maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth relate to anemia and under-nutrition. Early marriages and teenage pregnancies were quoted as major reasons for dropouts by all secondary school teachers.