Overcoming the challenges or urban food and nutrition security

Overcoming the challenges or urban food and nutrition security

Indian economy is the world’s eleventh largest economy by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, more that 230 million people remain undernourished. In this regard urban areas present their own challenges and despite their high contribution to the GDP, urban poverty and nutrition security remains a challenge.

This paper examines India’s urban food and nutrition security challenges stating that whereas in rural areas, all three dimensions of food and nutrition security – availability, access and absorption – are critical, in the urban context, because of the greater reliance on markets and private investments for availability, the access and absorption dimensions assume greater significance. Thus, urbanisation of poverty, urban inequality and infrastructure, employment issues, declining consumption levels and poor state of basic amenities are significant factors that contribute to urban food and nutrition security.

While stating that existing food safety nets like the Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDMS, Integrated child Development Services (ICDS) and other related schemes are appreciable, the paper makes the following policy recommendation to address the urban food and nutrition security challenges:

  • Expanding productive and remunerative employment opportunities in urban areas especially in the small and medium towns.
  • Focusing flagship programmes or schemes on small and medium towns challenges like shelter, water, sanitation etc.
  • Strategies like PDS, ICDS and MDMS must be better targeted, located and managed to address the special needs of the slum and other urban poor.
  • Need for effective fiscal policy frameworks and implementation. The national Food Security Act and the new programmes like National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) should ensure special emphasis on urban food and nutrition security.
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