At a time when Odisha is already viewed as a nutrition champion, the State has gone a step further to become the only one in the country to introduce a nutrition budget towards a new and empowered Odisha.
In a clear admission of the importance, the nutrition budget document states, “The Government of Odisha is the first State in India to initiate the concept of Nutrition Budgeting in the Financial Year (FY) 2020-21.”
The budget has made a distinction between Nutrition Specific (direct nutrition-centric) and Nutrition Sensitive (indirect nutrition centric) schemes and intervention, which follows the global nutrition framework.
While there is an increase of more than Rs 1,000 crore in Nutrition Specific scheme allocation for 2020-21, Nutrition Sensitive schemes have seen a jump of more than Rs 10,000 crore.
Associate Director at IPE Global,Neha Saigal said Odisha has established itself as a clear leader in matters of nutrition. “We would like to congratulate the Government of Odisha on this amazing initiative. The targeted focus on the most vulnerable communities like scheduled tribes (STs) is also an exemplary step. This will help the State in achieving key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as reduction of hunger and improvement in nutrition outcomes,” she said.
The IPE Global is a development sector organisation which helps design innovative and sustainable solutions for various stakeholders, including Governments.
The budget also introduced several new schemes for nutrition including the scheme on nutrition governance and a scheme to supply subsidised rice.
Executive Director, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)Subrat Das said that it is encouraging to see a State focusing on nutrition governance and trying to provide every community member access to nutrition services.
“We hope that an allocation of Rs 12 crore, even though a small amount, will not only fix responsibility but also ensure accountability from all levels of nutrition workers. It will now be interesting to know how the government uses this money to fix the governance issues that exist in this space,” he said.
In addition to these, Odisha Government ’s nutrition budget has increased the allocation for construction of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) by 25 times. AWCs are the first point of contact for community members who avail nutrition related Government services and schemes. It has gone up from Rs 4.53 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 113.29 crore in 2020-21.
Saigal said that the next exercise the Government needs to take up immediately is to map and identify the areas that require these AWCs urgently.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, the world’s largest scheme to improve the nutritional status of women and children in the country, has also seen a huge increase. Allocation for Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) under the ICDS saw an increase of 25 per cent for the year 2020-21.
Thus, the State set an example for the whole country by making nutrition related matters an important part of the budget.