Child Health & Nutrition

SNEHA's Child Health and Nutrition program launched its Aahar (a word which means "food" in Hindi) project in October 2012 in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia. The project aims to improve the health and nutrition status of children under 3 years of age through:
  • Rigorous screening and early identification of malnourished children.
  • Combinations of hospital care, Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) and referrals; and
  • Regular follow-up and monitoring.

The project covers an estimated population of 300,000 in Dharavi, and is implemented in partnership with the World Bank-financed Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai( MCGM).

Impact to Date

The project covers:

  • 29,000 under-3 malnourished children.
  • 4,200 pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • 300 ICDS outreach workers.
  • Screened about 24,000 children under 3 years for malnutrition in Dharavi.
  • Counseled 4200 pregnant women on Antenatal Care (ANC) and Infant and Young Child Feeding practices (IYCF).
  • Reduced wasting in less than 2 yr old children by 18% between 2011‐2014.
  • Provides continuous training and capacity building to over 500 government health workers, improving uptake of Government 'Take Home Rations' to pregnant women and children by 40%.


  • Works in close partnership with Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), a national initiative financed by the World Bank.
  • Partners with UNICEF on technical matters.

The Model

Through an approach combining home-based and facility-based care, Aahar reaches out to a large number of vulnerable children in need of monitoring and care. In order to maximize the impact on child development, the program captures mothers during pregnancy and addresses nutrition and feeding practice throughout the first 1,000 days of child's life.

From the Field

Priyanshi, 15 months old, came for monthly anthropometry and weighed 6.09Kg with height 71cms. She was graded as Severe Acutely Malnourished (SAM). She was very quiet, inactive and couldn't walk. Regular home visit were started by SNEHA's Community Organizer (CO) where the mother was counseled about the importance of regular growth monitoring and proper diet. The parents were given information about the health facilities available at the Urban Health Centre and referred to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Research Centre (NRRC) at the hospital. Initially, the mother was reluctant to take the child to the NRRC, but positive experiences of other parents who's children were treated by Pediatricians at the NRRC were shared with them. The parents were finally convinced and the mother took Priyanshi to the NRRC to commence treatment. The doctors advised Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) to Priyanshi for 56 days. Consistent follow up by SNEHA's CO and proper feeding by the mother enabled her to return to normal grade in 56 days. Priyanshi is now a happy, healthy playful child.

Read our "Stories of Change"