The World Bank approved Thursday (Sept. 8) a mixture of credits and loans to India, with one centering on improving the nutrition of pregnant women and children.
A total of $106 million— the first of the bank’s two-phase loan — will go to the ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project. The money will be used to improve government interventions in ensuring the health, diet and personal hygiene of pregnant women and children aged 3 years old and below.
The project indicates a shift in the government’s focus. For years, India had been focusing on food-based interventions and on children aged 3 to 6 years old. However, research has shown that “undernourishment can begin before a child is even born, with the critical period continuing until she turns two,” World Bank Country Director Onno Rûhl said in a press release.
Sixty percent of malnutrition cases in India are in the low-income states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The project will be financed by the International Development Association, the bank’s anti-poverty lending arm which will also be responsible for a $60 million watershed development project in the Indian state of Karnataka. The credit, also approved Thursday, is expected to benefit 160,000 farmer households in seven districts in Karnataka.
In addition, the World Bank has approved a $100 million development policy loan for Himachal Pradesh, a mountain state in northern India. The money will be used to support the government’s “transformative actions” in the areas of energy, watershed management and tourism. The loan will come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
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