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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 207-213

Positive deviance - The West Bengal experience

1 Project Officer (Child Development & Nutrition), UNICEF Kolkata Field Office
2 Professor and Head, Department of Health Education, AIIH&PH, Kolkata

Correspondence Address:
M Dobe
Professor and Head, Department of Health Education, AIIH&PH, Kolkata

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 16479899

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There are 11.1 million children in the age group 0-6 years in West Bengal. Of these, every second child under 3 years of age is underweight, more than four out of ten are stunted, and one out of eight are wasted. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme in West Bengal has 355 operational projects covering 53,064 operational anganwadi centers reaching out to more than four million beneficiaries-approximately half of whom are children in the age group 0-3 years. The Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) is trying to identify and replicate innovative, community-based, sustainable approaches. One such innovative initiative has been the " Keno Parbo Na " project. based on the Positive Deviance (PD) approach which aims to reduce and prevent malnutrition among children under 3 years of age by focusing on local solutions and resources, local behaviors and practices. Behavior change is emphasized through participatory learning and community mobilization. The pilot phase of the project has been completed in two districts [Four blocks (2 in each District) and 32 villages/AWCs (8 in each block)] of West Bengal (Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas). The analysis of the project activities so far reveals that the issue of malnutrition and its prevention is now visible in the villages covered. Acceptance of desirable behavioral practices is observed within the community. A steady reduction in the moderate and severe level of malnutrition was noted across four districts. A general preponderance of girl children was noted at the entry stage indicating higher levels of severe and moderate malnutrition among girl children to begin with but also suggesting PD as an important strategy in reducing the gender gap in malnutrition. The boys gain in terms of nutritional status faster than the girls so in the intermediate phase malnourished girls are more in number. However, by the sixth / ninth round, as the malnutrition levels decline substantially, the gender gap tends to close.

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