Prioritise children and women: Odisha the first Indian state to exercise nutrition budgeting
The focus of the budget is to improve the nutrition status of children, women, and other vulnerable groups.
One of the eight socioeconomically backward states in India, the Odisha government made the announcement as it revealed the 2020 state budget.
Specifically, there will be 5,210.29 cr (US$724m), which is 4.51% of total budget, allocated for 12 nutrition specific schemes and 23753.77cr (US$3.3bn), which is 20.58% of total budget, allocated for 84 nutrition sensitive schemes.
The two schemes differ in that the former is related to direct nutrition intervention while the latter are interventions that have the potential to improve nutrition status.
It should be noted that the two schemes are not new. They have been running way before the concept of nutrition budgeting is introduced.
The purpose of the budgeting exercise is therefore to “translate commitment in the nutrition front to budgetary commitments”, such as resources could be “allocated in a targeted manner with a focus on the most vulnerable,” according to the budget statement.
This year, the share of nutrition specific schemes is 4.51% of the total state budget, up from 3.46% last year. As for nutrition sensitive schemes, its share grew from 12.02% to 20.58%.
“The Nutrition Budget is an important tool to help the key departments in incorporating nutritional outcomes as one of the important components within various schemes, programmes and policies,” local media New Indian Express quoted Odisha’s finance minister Niranjan Pujari.
The key roles
The Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti (WCD & MS), together with the finance department, are central to steer the nutrition budgeting process.
In the past, the department has introduced a number of initiatives to improve nutrition intake, including recommending millets as morning snacks, driving the complementary feeding campaign in certain districts, and promoting micronutrient supplementation.
According to the state, due to its nutrition intervention, it has a lower number of children suffering from stunting, wasting, and underweight as compared to the national level as seen from past years.
For instance, the status of stunting in children of Odisha has dropped from 45% to 34.1% between 2005-06 to 2015-16. Whereas the national level dropped from 48% to 38.4%.
However, the state noted that there was a slight increase in the status of wasting from 19.6% to 20.4% during the same period of time.
On the other hand, the status of infant mortality rates per thousand life birth in the state has halved from 81% during 1998 – 99 to 40% during 2015 – 16.