57 million – or more than a third – of the world’s 146 million undernourished children live in India. The absence of exclusive and continued breastfeeding, inadequate quantity and quality of diet, deficiency of micronutrients in diets (particularly vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc and folic acid), lack of access to health services, and low education levels all contribute to the high malnutrition rates in India.

The consequences of this nutrition insecurity are widespread; impacting survival, physical growth, health and cognitive development throughout life. This results in economic losses at the individual and economic level, and affects current and future generations.

Facts about Malnutrition in India

  • 48% of under-5 are stunted, six out of 10 children from the poorest households are stunted, and almost as many are underweight
  • 43% of children under age 5 are moderately or severely underweight
  • 20% of children are wasted.
  • Three-quarters of Indian women and children are micronutrient-deficient
  • National expenditure on health is just 1.34% of India’s GDP
  • Compliance with recommended infant and young child feeding practices is very low
  • Gender bias means girls are at greater risk
  • 58% of Indians are forced to practice open defecation

GAIN’s Role

In India, GAIN’s interventions are built on a strong foundation of expanding food fortification initiatives to address micronutrient deficiencies across the country. GAIN in India has made strategic investments in the government of India’s Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal programs.

Major focus of GAIN in India is increasingly on its partnerships, advocacy and capacity building work. It has engaged with nutrition coalitions, self-help groups and policy research groups like the Public Health Foundation of India. It organized Health Writers’ Workshops, engaged with Government Ministries like Ministry of Women and Child Development, Food and Civil Supplies and many other to ensure strong support for the programs. Today, GAIN’s committed investment in India is close to USD 15 million, with an expectation to positively impact the nutritional outcomes of approximately 100 million individuals; a third of them are children and women in the reproductive age group.