Purpose:   The purpose of the study was;

  • To analyze and evaluate the patterns of malnourishment among Kondha tribal children age 0-5 years;
  • To examine the linkage of socio-economic status and extend of malnourishment among Kondha tribal children of age 0-5 years in rural areas of Kondhamal district in Odisha.

Design/methodology/approach:  The study was conducted during September 2013 At Phiringia block of Kondhamal district. A multi stage sampling was followed to select villages and the respondents. 172 Kondha tribal children under 5 years of age were selected from 13 villages in four panchayats.

Findings:  Extent of malnutrition varied with the age of the child. The higher incidence of malnutrition among children of 1 to 2 years age was mainly due to poor infant feeding practices as well as lack of supplementary feeding practices among the Kondha children.  Out of 172 children, 6 percent children were found to have ODEMA, about 58 percent of children were under weight, 19 percent children were suffering from wasting and 2 percent children were suffering from stunting.  Only marginal differences in proportion of under-nutrition are observed by sex of child in the case of stunting and wasting.  A greater proportion of first born children exhibited a worst weight-for-height ratio than the ones born later.  The association between stunting, wasting and birth order was found to be significant at 0.05 levels.  Age of the children, type of family, economic status of the family, sex of the children, birth order and mothers education were found to have significant impact on wasting and stunting among Kondha children. The age of children, sex of children, birth order, mother’s education, type of the family, and economic status of the family have significant effect on the nutritional level of the Kondha children.  Nutritional level of the children was found to be significantly influenced by the age of children, sex of children, birth order, mother’s education, type of the family, and economic status of the family. Malnourishment was found to be negatively correlated with the age of the child and education of the mother as well.

Research limitations: The information was collected on the basis of self reported symptoms of malaria and diarrhea morbidities which have its own limitations. The severity and the duration of morbid condition and treatment seeking behaviour were revealed by the respondents based on their memory which cannot be 100 percent correct in all the cases.

Though the popular hypothesis of “Silence Endurance” for seeking treatment was considered, yet further investigation is required on large scale level.

Implications:  Child feeding practices should be improved and children should be provided with supplementary foods beside breast milk.  Proper awareness programme regarding child feeding practices should be launched. Appropriate use of nutritional supplements and micronutrient supplements and diarrhea management through ORT should be promoted within the family. Since mother’s education is an important factor in determining children nutrition; hence female education should be promoted among the concerned tribe.