Pregnant women, new mothers and children bear the brunt of food crisis

Humla, June 3

Kalawati Bista, 26, of Humla’s remote Maila VDC is nine-month pregnant. Though her delivery date is approaching fast, she does not get to eat enough or nutritious food.

Bista is well aware that a balanced diet and nutritious food are vital to pregnant women, but acute food crunch in the district does not allow her to follow a diet. “Due to the prolonged drought this year, we failed to harvest enough grains. My family is surviving with one meal a day,” she said.

The residents of a number of VDCs in the mid and far-western development region have been facing a hard time due to the long drought, while children, pregnant women and new mothers are the hardest hit by the food crunch.

Though health workers have informed Bista that she is suffering from malnutrition, she has no option but to pray to god for the good health of her baby.

Similarly, it has been two weeks since Lal Mati Nepali of the locality gave birth to a baby. However, she has been making do with occasional rice and salt soup or dry flat bread (roti). “We don’t have enough grains at home and have to walk for a week to reach Bajura’s Kolti-based office of the Food Corporation for a single sack of rice,” she said.

Devi Lal Sunar, assistant health worker at Maila Health Post, said the health condition of pregnant women and new mothers was sharply deteriorating due to lack of balanced diet.

“This is also the reason why local women face difficulties during delivery while their new born babies suffer from malnutrition. They don’t have enough food to eat in the village, let alone nutritious food,” said Sunar.

District Public Health Office, Humla said similar was the situation of women in the district headquarters Simikot. There are around 1,392 pregnant women and new mothers across the district.

Many of them have fallen victims to malnutrition due to the lack of proper diet, according to information officer at the health office, Naresh Shrestha. He also informed that the number of children suffering from malnutrition was rapidly increasing every year.

“When new mothers don’t consume enough and nutritious food, they cannot breast feed their kids. This leads to fragile immunity among such kids,” said Belsari Budha, assistant nurse mid-wife at Raya Health Post.