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Hunger Haunts Children in Sunderbans: A Malnutrition Crisis

Unlike other children, five-year-old Soham cannot walk on his legs, nor can he frame words. Floods struck the Ghoramara village in Sundarbans, aggravating hunger and leaving behind children with undernourishment. PayBito team, on their ‘Brokering World Hunger Away’ movement in Sundarbans, uncovered the distressing conditions faced by the villagers. The team immediately took him to a healthcare center, where he was detected to be severely malnourished, which had weakened his legs to the point where they couldn’t support his body weight.  

Around 45 million children around the world are suffering from severe malnutrition. Hundreds of children die every day around the world. In Sundarbans, one-third of the children between the ages (of 0 to 5yrs) are chronically malnourished and receive no treatment. PayBito on its mission to end hunger reached the hunger-stricken parts of South-western Asia, the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site that is under threat of disappearance due to climate change. While the villagers battle with nature, and the sea, along with the jungle’s fury, the children deprived of wholesome food, are fighting for their life. The PayBito team had their first-hand experience with the lifestyle conditions of the villagers during their movement. 

Also Read: Startling Findings on Child Drowning in Sundarbans Discovered by PayBito

Cursed By Malnutrition: The Delta-Islands of Sundarbans

Many children in the Sunderbans suffer from malnourishment due to a combination of repeated climatic shocks such as cyclones and floods, geographical challenges in remote islands, and insufficient healthcare infrastructure. In the Sunderbans, it is common for children from impoverished households who are born without proper antenatal care and are not adequately nourished during the first few months of their lives to suffer from undernutrition and related health problems. The Sunderbans Health Watch report indicates that approximately 60% of children in the area did not receive breast milk immediately after birth. This is concerning as breastfeeding is a crucial factor in determining a child’s overall health.

Malnutrition is a significant health concern in the Sunderbans, impacting both mothers and children. To address this issue, it is crucial to improve the basic food supply to the population and provide additional food to all children and vulnerable groups. In areas where malnourishment among under-five children has exceeded 10% but remains below 15%, selective supplementary feeding to the malnourished should also be implemented. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) and international NGO Save the Children, the prevalence of anemia in women is alarmingly high, with an overall rate of 64%. 

The children of the Sundarbans not only suffer from malnutrition but also experience a higher burden of morbidity. According to a report from IIHMR, an estimated 0.3 million children in the region will fall ill in a given month, and 26,000 will require hospitalization within a year. Additionally, the prevalence of respiratory infections and gastrointestinal disorders among children in the Sunderbans is significantly higher than both the district and state averages. The inadequacy of the available public healthcare system has also been identified as a contributing factor to the child health concerns in the Sunderbans. Public health centers are not only scarce but also often run inefficiently due to a lack of critical resources. As a result, a parallel market of rural medical practitioners has emerged to bridge the significant gap in the curative care market.

Sunderbans Faces Malnutrition Crisis Triggered by Climate Change

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report emphasizes the direct correlation between climate change, extreme precipitation, regional-scale flooding, and food insecurity. The Sundarbans are experiencing significant impacts from various climatic factors and shocks. While cyclonic storms are not new to the region, their frequency and intensity have increased over the past 15 years, resulting in extensive damage to the land, livelihoods, and food security of the people living there. Cyclones have become commonplace in the Sundarbans, with each one causing more destruction than the previous.

cyclone in sundarbans

The destruction caused by cyclonic storms in the Sundarbans region is not only attributed to high wind speeds but also to the saline seawater that is injected into the soil and water sources, leading to the destruction of crops and the death of fish. The people living in the Sundarbans primarily depend on agriculture, fishing, and aquaculture, including crab, prawn, shrimp seed collection, and honey collection, for their food and livelihoods. According to experts and residents of the region, households in the area have been experiencing food shortages due to reduced crop production, damage to aquatic species, and increased food prices caused by supply shocks resulting from climate extremities.

The people living in Sundarbans are experiencing a decline in the consumption of fruits due to their extinction from their diet. This situation is caused by cyclones that have damaged fruit trees multiple times. For instance, bananas, which are a rich source of nutrients, are now scarce in many parts of Sundarbans. As a result, they have become very costly in the local market by the time they reach the villages. This implies that only those who can afford to buy fruits can include them in their diet. To increase the food security of poor and marginalized people, it is necessary to discover indigenous fruit varieties that can thrive in this environment. Additionally, it is crucial to regulate the market prices of essential food items.

The Plight of Starving Children in Sundarbans

PayBito, on its mission to end hunger, explored the villages of Sundarbans and encountered several families living in poverty and hunger. The condition of Soham was an eye-opener, however, there are several other kids in the village living in similar conditions. 

“We don’t have enough facilities here. After Amphan, our family had to go through a hard time. We cannot provide nutritious food to our kids. Sometimes we get fish, but fruits are not always available.  During floods and cyclones, we take shelter in the nearby flood center. While we get ration from the Anganwadi in our village, my children are underweight and lack immunity. They suffer from diarrhea and fever frequently.” – Amrita Mondal (Mother of Soham)

Amrita Mondal, a resident of Sundarbans, is struggling to provide nutritious food to her children due to the lack of facilities in her area. In an interview with PayBito, she shared that following the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan, her family has been going through a hard time. Although they sometimes manage to get fish, fruits are not readily available. During floods and cyclones, they take shelter in a nearby flood center. Although they receive ration from the Anganwadi in their village, Amrita’s children are underweight and lack immunity, frequently suffering from diarrhea and fever. Amrita’s family is facing a dire situation where their basic needs, including access to nutritious food and healthcare, are not being met.

Combating Hunger in the Sundarbans: Paybito’s ‘Brokering World Hunger Away’ Movement

PayBito has launched the ‘Brokering World Hunger Away‘ movement to address global hunger, alongside its crypto broker platform for individual brokers, institutional investors, and entrepreneurs. The platform is customizable, easy to set up, and can be a lucrative source of passive income. What’s noteworthy is that by signing up and earning commissions through the platform, brokers can also contribute directly to the ‘Brokering World Hunger Away’ movement. The initiative follows a ‘Dollar for a dollar’ , a zero investment model where for each dollar earned as a commission through the platform, PayBito will allocate the same amount to the movement. Here’s how the brokers can help the malnutrition children of Sundarbans.

  • Donations: The movement encourages individuals and organizations to donate cryptocurrency to non-profit organizations working towards combating world hunger. These organizations can use the donated funds to provide food and nutrition to malnourished children in the Sundarbans.
  • Partnerships: Paybito has partnered with non-profit organizations working on the ground in the Sundarbans to provide food and nutrition to underprivileged children. These partnerships can help ensure that the donations are used effectively and reach those who need them the most.
  • Awareness: The movement also aims to raise awareness about the issue of world hunger and the plight of malnourished children in the Sundarbans. By increasing awareness and highlighting the scale of the problem, the movement can help mobilize resources and support to tackle the issue.

Malnutrition and hunger have severe consequences on health, especially for children, which can lead to long-term physical and cognitive development issues. These are often symptoms of poverty, which leads to a vicious cycle of limited opportunities and reduced productivity. Addressing malnutrition and hunger in the Sundarbans is essential to help children thrive. PayBito’s initiative has brought an opportunity for the brokers to contribute to the movement with zero investment. Join the movement and contribute to ending global hunger today.

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