( January 29, 2021 )
Smile Foundation has highlighted how its intensive interventions through project ‘Sampoorna’ in Banaskantha district of Gujarat, brought about a remarkable change in the health outcomes of adolescent girls. The project was supported by Pepsico Foundation. The ground-breaking comprehensive nutrition enhancement program for 1,000 adolescent girls from 10 villages in Block Amirgarh, District Banaskantha, Gujarat, increased consumption of IFA, de-worming and multi-vitamin tablets, substantially increased Hemoglobin levels in adolescent girls and created positive outcomes in their Body Mass Index (BMI).
As far as Hemoglobin levels were concerned, due to the project intervention, the incidence of severe to moderate anaemia fell from nearly 78 per cent to around 34 per cent. There was a considerable turnaround in the consumption of multi-vitamins and Iron and Folic Acid supplements as well. While the consumption of IFA tablets went up from 14.3 per cent to 47.9 per cent, consumption of multi-vitamins increased from 15.10 per cent to 44.4 per cent and consumption of de-worming tablets increased from 6.35 per cent to 7.24 per cent.
There was a remarkable improvement in the BMIs of the adolescent girls as well. The percentage of underweight girls decreased from 70.2 per cent to 13.8 per cent and those with normal weight increased from 29.5 to 86.1 per cent. The project outcomes were shared by Smile Foundation in a virtual session with the theme- ‘Sustainability in Nutrition Intervention for Adolescent Girls’
The event on January 22 was attended by eminent personalities such as Dr. Sumantra Pal – Economic Advisor, Ministry of Women & Child Development (Government of India); Manisha Chandra – Secretary & Commissioner, Women & Child Development (Government of Gujarat) and panellists from various development partner organizations.
Praising the work done under the project, Dr. Sumantra Pal, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India said,” It is commendable how the project has been able to deliver and initiate behavioural change despite challenges, especially due to the pandemic. Nutrition in adolescent girls is a critical subject, cutting across various SDGs. We congratulate Smile and Pepsi Co. for their efforts to promote behavioural change and steps to reduce anaemia in young girls.”
Congratulating Smile Foundation, Ms. Manisha Chandra, Secretary & Commissioner, Women & Child Development, Government of Gujarat, said,” I would like to congratulate Smile for wonderful efforts in the sector. The success stories shared today inspire us to replicate the project in other parts of Gujarat. The Sampoorna Project works in tandem with SDG-2, but the SDG2 is the basis for achieving all the other goals, therefore the learnings shared today become extremely important for us.”
Mr Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder, and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation said, “In the Sampoorna project, more than the improvement in the haemoglobin levels of 1,000 adolescent girls, it is the awareness and behavioural change we have been able to trigger in them, their families, and the larger community that I feel is our biggest achievement. This is so evident when you hear the girls talk, in how they conduct themselves. The project gave them an opportunity to not just step out of their homes, but also break the social barriers that had prevented them from truly utilizing their potential. They are now confident and outspoken. They are informed and aware of their food and health choices. They have become financially independent; many who had discontinued their education, have opened up to learning again. I remember our project coordinator sharing that together, they even prevented two child marriages from happening. These little victories are no less important, in fact, they are more so. And this is what we are celebrating today – Real Work, Real Change, which incidentally also happens to be our motto at Smile.”
Juhi Gupta, Head – Sustainability PepsiCo India, Foundation said, “Winning with Purpose continues to remain at the heart of PepsiCo & so does the focus on safe water, nutrition & other development needs for the underserved communities. We are happy to have partnered with Smile Foundation on this project to address the nutritional needs of the adolescent girls which continues to pose as a major challenge across the Country. It’s encouraging to see the positive outcomes achieved through improvement in haemoglobin levels and adoption of better nutritional habits by the target cohorts- this truly has been a great partnership and a memorable journey.”
Project ‘Sampoorna ’was introduced in 2018 to make a difference to the status of women’s health with Smile Foundation as the implementing partner and PepsiCo Foundation as the donor under their CSR initiative. The project was formulated after a baseline study, conducted by Smile Foundation to assess the nutritional status of adolescent girls (14 to 19 years) in the region, revealed that 78% of adolescent girls were anaemic (varying from mild to severe), with 50% girls being moderately anaemic and about 13% being severely anaemic. The survey also revealed that only 17.6% were attending school, with most respondents (49%) dropping out of school after Class 6 or 8. The study further revealed that around 84% of the respondents have never consumed any multi-vitamin or iron-folic acid supplements, and most of them having no awareness of anaemia or ever having checked their anaemic status.
India carries the highest burden of the disease despite having an anaemia control program for over 70 years. Covering 1,000 women from 10 villages in the Banaskantha district, the project has been designed as a pilot program for addressing the prevalence of anaemia among girls. The project tries to introduce behavioural changes regarding proper dietary practices, and help improve nutrition quotient, while also empowering the girls with livelihood capabilities.