Acute shortage of food triggered by COVID-19 has left most of the children malnourished at Muktikot village of Bajura's Swamikartik Khapar Rural Municipality.

The pandemic had also adversely affected the Golden 1,000 Days programme in the village implemented in a bid to address the problem of malnutrition among new mothers and their newborns, according to rural municipality Vice-chair Mima Budha.

Muktikot is home to 400 Dalit families.

Most of the people in these families are malnourished.

The village sees many deaths of children from malnutrition every year.

Death of infants and kids due to lack of nutrition has become very common in the village. Children, and pregnant women are worst hit by the problem of malnutrition. Many children are struggling for their lives due to malnutrition.

Six children lost their lives to malnutrition in the last one year alone. Local Sangita BK lost her son due to malnutrition a year ago. Another son of BK is struggling for life due to malnutrition.

Ghuguri BK gave birth to six children.

Of them, two died of malnutrition.

Despite the pathetic situation, the government has done nothing to address the problem faced by people for years. Local Bal Bahadur BK said many children were fighting for their lives due to shortage of nutritious food.

Many pregnant women themselves are malnourished.

"Muktikot is in serious crisis, but the government is apathetic towards these people," say locals. Rural municipality information officer Kuber Bahadur Shahi said Muktikot had the highest number of impoverished people in the whole country.

Overpopulation has added to the woes of Muktikot. Hardly a woman can be found giving birth to less than two to three kids. Most of the women have given birth to more than eight children.

Local Janasara BK is 32 years old. But she has conceived more than 12 times.

She gave birth to eight children while she aborted four foetuses. She has five daughters and three sons. More number of children means more problems for parents raising their children. Women and girls have no idea about family planning, said Bal Bahadur BK.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 9 2021, of The Himalayan Times.