Respondent households faced some level of difficulty in accessing food during the lockdown
Around nine in every ten households faced some level of difficulty in accessing food during the lockdown.
- Overall around 35 per cent of the households went without eating the whole day either many times or sometimes, and 38 per cent skipped an entire meal in a day several times or sometimes
- 49 per cent households spent less on atta-dal-chawal and 63 per cent reduced spending on biscuits-snacks-sweets during the lockdown
- The incidence of having often gone without food for the whole day was highest in Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Odisha.
- Muslim, Christian and Hindu Dalit households reported experiencing greatest hunger in the lockdown.
India’s hunger statistics are among the poorest in the world. India ranked 102 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019 with a score of 30.3 thus falling in ‘serious’ category.
As per the ‘Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18’ of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, published in 2019, only 6 per cent of all children aged 6 to 23 months were fed a minimum acceptable diet. In 10 out of 30 states, less than 5 percent of children aged 6 to 23 months received a minimum acceptable diet.
Amid the nationwide lockdown, the hunger scenario in rural India got worse as people lost their livelihoods and there was no income for months together.
In a first-of-its-kind national survey, Gaon Connection interviewed rural residents to understand the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their lives and livelihoods in rural India. We interviewed people to understand the challenges they faced in accessing foodgrains, including the public distribution system (PDS). This survey, conducted across 179 districts in 23 states of the country, has thrown up some important findings.
Overall, around nine in every ten households faced some level of difficulty in accessing food during the lockdown. Lack of access to food during the lockdown was particularly dire in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana. In contrast, Kerala, Gujarat and Rajasthan reported the least food related problems.
Overall around 35 per cent households went without eating the whole day either many times or sometimes, 38 percent skipped an entire meal in a day several times or sometimes, and 46 per cent cut one or two items from their meal often or sometimes. High difficulty in accessing food seems to have resulted in a fairly high incidence of hunger among rural households and this seems to have happened despite government ration reaching many of these households.
Of all the states the incidence of having often gone without food for the whole day during the lockdown was found to be greatest among households located in Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Odisha.
In order to further measure economic hardship faced by rural households during the lockdown, our survey also tried to find out whether households had spent more money or less money on specific food items namely, atta-dal-chawal and biscuits-snacks-sweets during the lockdown.
A majority of households reported having spent less money on each of these food items during the lockdown compared to the pre-lockdown days. Forty nine per cent spent less on atta-dal-chawal and 63 per cent reduced spending on biscuits-snacks-sweets.
While lower class households were more likely than others to report spending cuts on many of these items, a sizeable proportion (around half) of the rich and middle class households too reported spending less on these items.