Micronutrient deficiency continues to affect sizeable sections of the global population in India and this “hidden hunger” extracts a substantial toll in terms of morbidity, mortality, reduced economic productivity and poor quality of life from those who are affected.
The Mid-day Meal (MDM) programme of India entails nutritional support in the form of school-served lunch to the students of grade 1-8 (age group 6-14 years), attending mainly government and government-aided schools. It constitutes one of the largest nutritional supplementation programmes of the world. A pilot project conducted in the Gajapati district of Odisha state established an operational model for fortified rice with iron. Learning from this success, the Department of School and Mass Education (DSME), Government of Odisha and World Food Programme (WFP) planned to demonstrate the model in Dhenkanal through multi-micronutrient fortification.
An evaluation study was built in the project right from the stage of conceptualization with the objectives of measuring a) changes in selected nutrition-related indicators; b) the attributability of these changes (if any) to the fortification strategies; c) the contribution of other factors to the changes (if any); and d) comparing the two strategies with regards to their costs and operational feasibility and convenience.