Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: Asha runs a supplementary nutrition program to combat malnutrition in the river bed slum

300 families live in the worst of environmental conditions and poverty on the river bed near the Interstate Bus Terminal. They rush to the main road when the entire area gets flooded during a heavy monsoon, and live there for months until the flood waters recede. Their huts are still made of bamboo, straw and tarpaulin. The entire area is dusty and muddy. There are no roads, no drainage systems, no street lights, no electricity in the homes, and stagnant water all around. Flies and mosquitoes abound everywhere. Most people are rickshaw pullers and are out of work these days.

The Asha team visits this community regularly and activities are carried out from a small bamboo shed owned by one of the residents. It’s terribly hot these days and there’s a small table fan to get some air. Apart from giving the residents regular groceries and other urgent help, I noticed that the children under five were getting even more severely malnourished than they already were.

The wonderful Asha team has found a way to begin the supplementary nutrition program in this community. They lay out mats on the dusty patch of land, and the children come with the mothers to eat the delicious Asha high calorie high protein Laddoo. No building, no rooms, no infrastructure, and yet the children come with great enthusiasm everyday to enjoy their Laddoos. Their growth is being monitored carefully and they are also being given all essential micro nutrients. I am amazed at the dedication of the team to carry out this program in such a difficult environment.

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