Any social program, in an Indian context especially, has to ensure that while addressing a social cause, cultural, economic factors are considered, communities and families are involved.
Study Social, Economic and Cultural Factors
Lets say you want to work in the area of child nutrition, You need to provide the meals through a mid day meal scheme, and also look at educating mothers on healthy cooking at home within a budget. Here again one has to consider economic factors of what the families in the identified communities can afford. A meal plan of 5 eggs a day may not be ideal in urban slums or rural areas, its just not affordable. Also Southern food is dominant in rice while Rotis dominate the north . In some cases millets may be an option
If the cause you pick is prenatal or postnatal nutrition then educating the mother in law or husband about effects of malnutrition becomes essential. You may provide the best food, milk and vegetables at your community centers for women, but if her family decides to deprive her of that and feed the men at home instead with what you give, you are at ground zero when you measure impact.
Align With Existing Govermnet Schemes
Creating a parallel system to the already existing government schemes, community programs or anganwadis or a program that is not in line to the exisiting goverment schemes does not help .Instead connect with the communities and government schemes and create a holistic program leveraging them.
An example of some exemplary work in this area is by DASRA and Sneha for Philips, when I ran the program with them at the Dharavi slum. The nutrition program Aahar saw that millet was distributed by the Government but not used properly by the communities.Though nutrition value was high awareness of millet dishes was low. So a small "Khana Khazana" program was organised by Sneha which led to better awareness. Not only did the nutrition levels of children show improvement , but the women have come out with innovative recipes for cooking millet! So educating mothers, working with government schemes and raising awareness on nutrition for kids brought great dividends!
Holistic approach to social causes is the need of the hour.
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