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Child Undernutrition and Convergence of Multisectoral Interventions in India: An Econometric Analysis of National Family Health Survey 2015–16
Authors: Sunil Rajpal, William Joe, Rockli Kim, Alok Kumar, and S. V. Subramanian
Source: Frontiers in Public Health, 8; DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00129
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2020
Abstract: In India and worldwide, there has been increased strategic focus on multisectoral convergence of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to attain rapid reductions in child undernutrition. For instance, a Convergence Action Plan in India has been formed to synchronize and converge various nutrition-related interventions across ministries of union and state governments under a single umbrella. Given the large variation in number, nature and impact of these interventions, this paper aims to quantify the contribution of each intervention (proxied by relevant covariates) toward reducing child stunting and underweight in India. The interventions are classified under six sectors: (a) health, (b) women and child development, (c) education, (d) water, sanitation, and hygiene, (e) clean energy, and (f) growth sector. We estimate the potential reduction in child stunting and underweight in a counterfactual scenario of “convergence” where all the interventions across all the sectors are simultaneously and successfully implemented. The findings from our econometric analysis suggests that under this counterfactual scenario, a reduction of 18.37% points (95% CI: 16.77; 19.95) in stunting and 20.26% points (95% CI: 19.13; 21.39) in underweight can be potentially achieved. Across all the sectors, women and child development and clean energy were identified as the biggest contributors to the potential reductions in stunting and underweight, underscoring the importance of improving sanitation-related practices and clean cooking fuel. The overall impact of this convergent action was relatively stronger for less developed districts. These findings reiterate a clear role and scope of convergent action in achieving India's national nutritional goals. This warrants a complete outreach of all the interventions from different sectors.