Using technology to Arrest Malnutrition


We recently partnered with Germany’s Welthungerhilfe and Microsoft for a pilot project using artificial intelligence to tackle malnutrition among children.

As part of this project we will be screening 10,000 children in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan using an app called as Child Growth Monitor, developed by Welthungerhilfe and powered by Microsoft’s Azure and AI services. This app identifies the signs of malnutrition in children through a camera based 3D scan and can be used by health workers on ground to save time and provide crucial lifesaving treatment to children.

You can read more about this in the following publications:

  • The Times of India – Germany’s Welthungerhilfe partners Microsoft for pilot project in India to tackle malnutrition – January 17, 2019
  • Business Standard – Germany’s Welthungerhilfe partners Microsoft for pilot project in India to tackle malnutrition – January 17, 2019
  • The Indian Express – This new app will track malnutrition in India with the help of Microsoft’s AI – January 18, 2019
  • Microsoft – Child Growth Monitor: Using AI to solve world hunger and malnutrition – January 17, 2019

This platform will help us in early identification of children suffering from malnutrition thereby reducing treatment time. On a successful pilot, this will become part of all our programs in the near future.

Planting vegetable gardens in dharni

A key element of defeating malnutrition in children is ensuring wholesome nutrition during their formative years. A well-rounded diet introduced gradually post the child turning 6 months, lays a solid foundation for them to grow up healthy and strong.

Fresh and locally available vegetables are staples of all healthy diets, but can be hard to come by in the regions where we work given their remoteness and water availability. In such a scenario, planting and promoting backyard vegetable gardens, serves as a cost effective way of achieving long term nutrition security. Such gardens not only ensure an easily accessible source of good nutrition for families, but also provide them an extra source of income making it self-sustainable.

Vegetable or Kitchen gardens have been a mainstay of our initiative to tackle malnutrition in Dharni, Maharashtra since the project began in 2018. We work with malnutrition affected families and help them plough, plant, and maintain such gardens by proving equipment, seeds and all the necessary knowledge to do so.

To join us in this endeavour, a team of eight from NAOS Middle East visited Dharni to plant vegetable gardens and help families become nutritionally self-sufficient. Over a period of 3 days, team NAOS learnt the science behind structuring a plot, digging soil beds, choosing the vegetables depending on the time of the year and watering patterns, and applied them first hand in the backyards of three families.

Divided into groups, the team measured, marked and dug up patches of land to plant and grow multiple vegetables. Together, we sowed tomatoes, chillies, bottle gourds, okra (lady finger), cluster beans and eggplant to name a few. The mid-June period presents a good window of sowing given the imminent rains. With 3 more kitchen gardens in place, in addition to the 60, we planted last year, we look forward in hope for families in Dharni to have year full of good health ahead!

Funded by NAOS, the Dharni project aims to bring down malnutrition in children and mothers by focusing on long term behavior change. We work in 39 villages of Dharni on Nutrition, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Food Security and Livelihood (FSL) in tandem with the local and state Government.