Sunday October 22, 2017

“Roti Bank”- Mumbai Dabbawalla’s Initiative to Erase Hunger

Dabbawallas of Mumbai are also looking forward to sharing their thoughts in other Indian cities such as Lucknow, Noida, and Hubli.

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Dabbawallas in Mumbai. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There’s an old saying “To survive on this planet you’ll need 3 things. Guess what? Well, folks!! Roti (bread), kapda (Clothes) and makaan (shelter) it is.

Here’s a strange fact. Although there is plenty of food produced by the farmers of India, but it is not evenly distributed among the people. India ranks 3rd in the world for obesity constituting 46 million obese citizens (according to the journal Lancet). At the same time, it also is the hungriest nation of the world. The Dabbawallas (meaning the one with boxes) of Mumbai have taken an initiative to help the underprivileged gain access to food. As a part of their accountability towards society, some initiatives have been taken by the Dabbawallas so that the nation doesn’t go hungry-

  • Maharastrain weddings are generally big fat weddings. There is so much of investment, showcase, latest trends are done there. It is indeed an expensive affair. With so much of pomp and grandeur, with it comes food wastage which is very common in these marriages.
  • The Dabbawallas of Mumbai have come up with an interesting project named ‘Roti bank’. Their aim is to distribute the leftovers evenly among the underprivileged class.
  • One of the co-founders of this initiative Dashrath Kedare (also the leader of dabbawalla union) even said: “We deal with food every day, so we’re ideally placed to fix this”.
  • They believe that In India there are schemes such as midday meals for poor children of our society and even religious charities such as Langars in Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) are organised. But no one is focusing towards the leftovers.
  • An average Indian marriage comprises of at least 100 people and at most 2500. A quarter of the food that’s prepared is always thrown away. Thousands of tons of food is trashed every day in a similar fashion. Union leaders add that it needs to be properly distributed within a limited span of time. Otherwise, the food will spoil.
  • These dabbawallas have formed an extensive network in the whole city. With more than 4000 members in their union, they are an integral part of Mumbai’s social life.Even Harvard Business school has done a case study on these efficient dabbawallas. They know exactly where those homeless lives live.

Leftover food materials, Wikimedia commons
Leftover food, Wikimedia commons

  • They have a unanimous support for this initiative. The first pickup was done in December, from an event organised by an airline. Their impact was so influential that more than 30 wedding planners have now partnered with them. They get 20-30 calls every day. Their response rate is way too high.

Related article:Improvement and malnutrition in India

  • Those dabbawallas earn about 180$ a month along with their monthly train passes and reimbursement for bicycle maintenance. They prefer to work in pairs. However, some work during their morning shifts while some do it during their afternoon shifts.

    A packed Dabba containig food, Wikimedia commons
    A packed Dabba containig food, Wikimedia commons
  • They are looking forward to taking it to a broader level by having a tie-up with NGOs across the country. Rotibankidia.com is a new website launched by Talekdar and Kedare (leaders of the Dabbawallas union). People can donate their leftover foodstuffs via this repository website.
  • Setting up collection points at various local railway stations, they are trying to convert smaller contributions to into a substantial amount. They are also looking forward to sharing their thoughts in other Indian cities (with similar scenarios) such as Lucknow, Noida, and Hubli.
  • Even though these dabbawallas play a small role in our society but with the amount of kindness and the large heart that they possess, these people have certainly impressed all with their collaborative efforts. They feel accountable towards the society and are comparitvely better than those upper class people who have plenty to do on their part but are unwilling to do so.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.

Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

 

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UN Report on Rohingya Hunger Crisis Suspended on Order of Myanmar Government

The current crisis began on August 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked police checkpoints on Myanmar's Rakhine state and killed 12 security personnel.

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Rohingya refugees collect aid supplies including food and medicine, sent from Malaysia, at Kutupalang Unregistered Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Feb. 15, 2017, VOA

United Nations, October 17, 2017: The UN food aid agency withdrew a critical report revealing desperate hunger among the Rohingya Muslim minority after the Myanmar government ordered it to be taken down, the media reported on Tuesday.

The July assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that more than 80,000 children under the age of five were “wasting” – a potentially fatal condition of rapid weight loss, reports the Guardian.

The six-page document has since been replaced with a statement saying Myanmar and WFP were “collaborating on a revised version”.

That process would involve “representatives from various ministries, and will respond to the need for a common approach” that was in line with “WFP’s future cooperation with the government”.

When asked why the July report was removed, the WFP said it was withdrawn from the website “following a request by the government to conduct a joint review”, the Guardian reported.

In a statement, the agency said: “The WFP stands by its original assessment, which was conducted jointly with local authorities in Rakhine state… However WFP recognises that in a dynamic and evolving situation, it is important to coordinate closely with all partners, including the government.”

Meanwhile, the UN’s most senior official in the country is scheduled to leave at the end of the month amid allegations she suppressed another report and also attempted to shut down public advocacy on Rohingya suffering.

The current crisis began on August 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked police checkpoints on Myanmar’s Rakhine state and killed 12 security personnel.

It resulted in over half a million Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, many alleging that the Myanmar Army conducted a counter-offensive that included mass killings and rapes.(IANS)

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Annual Global Hunger Index : Global Hunger Levels Rise for the first time in ten years ; Africa tops the list

The index is based on levels of hunger in the general population, and rates of wasting, stunting and deaths among children under 5 years old.

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A mother holds onto her emaciated infant at an emergency feeding clinic in Maradi, Niger. (VOA)

Rome, October 12, 2017 : Global hunger has fallen more than a quarter since 2000, but conflict and climate shocks are beginning to reverse these gains, an annual global hunger index said.

Nearly half of the 119 countries surveyed had “serious,” “alarming” or “extremely alarming” hunger levels between 2012 and 2016, with war-torn Central African Republic worst affected, followed by Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Zambia.

“Conflict- and climate-related shocks are at the heart of this problem,” said Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern, which compiled the report along with the International Food Policy Research Institute and Welthungerhilfe.

About half of the populations in the hungriest countries were short of food, it said.

South Sudan and Somalia, which are at risk of renewed famine, were among 13 countries excluded from the index because of lack of data.

The United Nations said last month that global hunger levels had risen for the first time in more than a decade, now affecting 11 percent of the world’s population, or 815 million people.

Famine struck parts of South Sudan earlier this year, the U.N. said, and there is a high risk that it could return there, as well as develop in other countries hit by conflict: northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

Yemen came sixth in the index as its hunger crisis has spiked since 2015, when civil war erupted and the data cover the period 2012 to 2016.

ALSO READ Global Hunger on Rise Again: UN Food Agencies

Although most of Nigeria is relatively food secure, the eight-year Islamist Boko Haram insurgency has left millions in the northeast at risk of starvation.

“We must build the resilience of communities on the ground, but we must also bolster public and political solidarity internationally,” MacSorley said in a statement.

The survey found that 14 countries — including Senegal, Azerbaijan, Peru, Panama, Brazil and China — had made significant improvements since 2000.

The index is based on levels of hunger in the general population, and rates of wasting, stunting and deaths among children under 5 years old.

Women, girls and ethnic minorities are most at risk of hunger, which causes nearly half of deaths in under 5s, it said.

“The world needs to act as one community with the shared goal of ensuring not a single child goes to bed hungry each night and no one is left behind,” MacSorley said. (VOA)

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Syria Turns the School Playgrounds into Vegetable Gardens to Feed Hungry Children

The ongoing crisis in Syria is having a devastating effect on the health and nutrition of an entire generation of children

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A boy sells vegetables and fruits along a street in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, Syria
A boy sells vegetables and fruits along a street in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, Syria. VOA
  • Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis
  • Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases

School playgrounds across Syria are being transformed into vegetable gardens where children whose diets have been devastated by six years of war can learn to grow and then eat — aubergines, lettuces, peppers, cabbages, and cucumbers.

Traditional Syrian cuisine is typical of the region and rich in vegetables. Its mainstays include hummus, minced lamb cooked with pine nuts and spices, varied salads, stews made with green beans, okra or courgettes and tomatoes, stuffed cabbage leaves and artichoke hearts.

But the six-year war has changed that for much of the population, and many now live mainly on bread or food aid.

According to U.N. figures, unemployment now stands at more than 50 percent, and nearly 70 percent of the population is living in extreme poverty, in what was once a relatively wealthy country.

“The ongoing crisis in Syria is having a devastating effect on the health and nutrition of an entire generation of children,” Adam Yao, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) acting representative in Syria, said on Tuesday, ahead of the start of the school year.FAO is helping some 17 primary schools in both government and opposition-controlled areas to plant up to 500 meter-square fruit and vegetable plots in war-torn areas including Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus.

FAO is helping some 17 primary schools in both government and opposition-controlled areas to plant up to 500 meter-square fruit and vegetable plots in war-torn areas including Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus.Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis, which can have serious and long-lasting effects on their growth and future development.

Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis, which can have serious and long-lasting effects on their growth and future development.

“Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases and important for children to be able to lead an active and healthy life,” Yao added.

The primary schools, which began planting in May, have produced 12 tons of fruit and vegetables. Another 35 schools are expected to start transforming their playgrounds soon in Aleppo and in rural areas around Damascus.

Also Read: Ground Report: How ISIS is ruining lives of people in Syria and Iraq

Rising prices, falling production

The price of food has risen since the start of the war — agriculture production has plummeted, and the country now relies on food imports to make up the shortfall. Transporting food around the country has also become difficult and costly.

About 13.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of those, 7 million are unable to meet their basic food needs.

Some 5 million people receive international food aid, but not everyone in need can be reached, and the World Food Program says it has had to cut a number of calories in its family food baskets because of funding shortages.

“The donors are generous, but we don’t know how long they can continue to be generous and rely on taxpayers’ money,” the FAO’s Yao told Reuters.

Vulnerable families are receiving help from FAO to grow food at home, so they can become less reliant on food aid.

“Food aid is very important, but … we should combine both, in a way that people grow their own food and move away from food aid gradually,” he said.

In a country where more than half the population has been forced to flee their homes, many moving several times, investing in agriculture helps people to stay put for as long as it is safe, Yao added.

“Agriculture has become a hope for [many] because they can grow their own food and survive — even in the besieged areas.” (VOA)