Hunger Watch Survey: 66% Respondents Report Income Loss; 25% Severe Food Insecurity
66% of the respondents said that their income decreased as compared to pre-pandemic period.
Almost two years after the onset of the pandemic in the country, many vulnerable Indians are yet to see their incomes return to pre-pandemic levels and are reporting a decline in the quality of their food intake, according to the second round of the Hunger Watch survey.
The survey was carried out by the Right to Food Campaign, an informal network of individuals and organisations working for the realisation of the right to food in India. It covered 6,697 respondents across 14 states. Of these, 4,881 were residing in rural areas, while the rest were in urban areas.
Vulnerable communities in rural and urban areas were identified by local activists and researchers. "While the results being presented may not be representative of the district, state or country, they do, however, tell a story of deprivation of lakhs of households in similar situations," the release stated.
Income shock: Two years into the pandemic, 66% of the respondents said that their income decreased as compared to pre-pandemic period.
Poor food intake: Only 34% of the overall sample reported that their household’s cereal consumption in the month preceding the survey was sufficient.
Using the Global Food Insecurity Experience Scale, it was found that 79% of the households surveyed reported some form of food insecurity, and an alarmingly high 25% reported severe food insecurity.
67% could not afford cooking gas in the month preceding the survey.
Poor diet quality: 41% of households reported that the nutritional quality of their diet had deteriorated compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Access to Government Programmes: 84% of the households had a ration card and over 90% of those who had any ration card that is eligible for subsidised grains, said they received some food grains. However, a quarter of households with eligible members said that they did not receive mid-day meal scheme or Integrated Child Development Scheme provisions.
45% households had some outstanding debt.
The survey attempts to document the hunger situation six months after the second wave of Covid-19 in India.
The first round of the survey was undertaken six months after the national lockdown in end-2020. At that time, 62% of the surveyed households had reported lower levels of income, 71% reported worsened nutritional quality and 66% reported a decrease in quantity of food consumed compared to the pre-lockdown period. The second of the survey shows that many of these issues remain pressing concerns even now, the release said.