To apply the philosophy and approach of ASER (Annual Survey of Education Report)- an annual learning level Pan India household based survey, to assess dietary intake of adult women across eight districts from 7 Indian states.
ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) surveys, an endeavour of (Pratham-NGO) to engage ordinary people in the assessment of childrens learning outcomes is an example of a community participation process engaging citizens in assessments. PAHELI (Peoples Assessment of Health, Education and Livelihoods) surveys of 2006 and 2011 developed simple and easy to use rapid assessment tools for easily measurable indicators in key human development domains.PAHELI 2011 surveyed eight districts across seven states and inter alia elicited information on dietary intake of 8011 adult rural women.
Almost no woman reported having consumed food from all the protective food groups in the 24 hours before the survey. In standard recommendations, at least one portion of each of these food groups should be consumed daily by adult Indian women. Second, consumption of milk and milk products was dismal. Only about 1 in 10 women reported consuming any such food product even once during the day. Third, it was observed that most surveyed women came from households reporting ownership of some land and livestock. This leads one to wonder whether the low consumption was due to food availability or low purchasing power, or was it ignorance or indifference?
The disconnect between policy provisions and community uptake has been highlighted in national surveys. One obvious way to improve the uptake is to empower beneficiaries by actively involving them in assessment. Perhaps simple tools that involve people to generate understandable evidence could be a first step transforming beneficiaries into stakeholders.This could catalyse demand for policy provisions that supplement nutrition gaps, thereby improving uptake.More importantly, active involvement in understanding food and feeding might lead to community solutions independent of policy provisions.