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Caritas India Launches Programme for Food and Nutrition Security

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Caritas India launched a food and nutrition security programme for helping the pandemic-hit marginalized communities of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to combat chronic food and nutrition insecurity. Sanjivani will be implemented in 85 villages that are predominantly inhabited by Dalits and Adivasis in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by eight partners.

Addressing the orientation and launch workshop Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel highlighted the sad contradiction of farmers, who are Annadata or giver of food, going hungry. “Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the vulnerabilities of marginalized communities and worsened their food and nutrition insecurity. We need to work with the communities to find sustainable solutions to their hunger. It is not acceptable for us that producers of food go hungry”, the prelate said. He thanked Caritas India for strengthening the diocesan social service societies with capacities and funding support. During his presidential address, he recalled how the Catholic Church in India had expressed her solidarity and compassion with the afflicted communities during the peak of the lockdown.

The 3-year food and nutrition security programme, with intervention, focuses on climate resilience agriculture and good governance for food and nutrition security is supported by Misereor. Fr. Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India, in his address spoke on the good works that partners have done in the previous programmes for providing food and nutrition security cover to the marginalized communities. “Sanjivani should be grounded on accountability and transparency. As organisations that exist on the foundations of Catholic values, we have accountabilities to our faith and to the communities with who we work. We also need to implement Sanjivani in a transparent manner in such a way that the society, in general, knows what we expect from this programme”. He urged the participants to develop a clearer understanding of the causes of the food and nutrition insecurity of communities and to assist communities to overcome these challenges.

Fr. Kiran Olakkengil, director of Madhya Pradesh Samaj Seva Sanstha, also addressed the congregation. In his address, he underscored the necessity of identifying local solutions to food and nutrition insecurity and implementing them in a people-led manner. “Recognizing people’s wisdom is vital for achieving food and nutrition security. Communities have a tremendous wealth of wisdom when it comes to food growing. Our efforts should start with communities’ knowledge”, Fr. Kiran said.

Sanjivani has been conceptualized as a two-pronged programme. It combines efforts to maximise food production in an environment-friendly and sustainable manner and the initiative to strengthen communities to tap government scheme benefits related to food and nutrition security. Four each grassroots level organisations from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will implement Sanjivani in Adivasi and Dalit dominated villages.

The two-day project orientation and thematic training for partner directors and coordinators was organized at Kripa Training Centre, Ujjain on 2 and 3 March 2021.