Adivasis in Odisha, Jharkhand less food-insecure than non-Adivasis: Report

Prevalence of acceptable dietary diversity higher in non-Adivasi households than Adivasi households in both states

By Taran Deol
Published: Tuesday 03 May 2022
Poor dietary diversity among Adivasis in Odisha, Jharkhand: Report Photo: iStock

A greater portion of non-Adivasi households is severely food insecure than Adivasi households in Odisha and Jharkhand, according to a new report. In Odisha, 16 per cent of non-Adivasi households and 12 per cent of Advasi households are food insecure, the report showed. In Jharkhand, the difference is marginal — 25 per cent of Adivasi households and 24 per cent of non-Adivasi households are severely food insecure. 

Dietary diversity, however, is relatively poor among Adivasis living in Odisha and Jharkhand, according to a new report. 

The prevalence of an acceptable dietary diversity is higher in the non-Adivasi households (77 per cent) in comparison to 54 per cent of the Adivasi households. Around 3 per cent of Adivasi households have poor dietary diversity, according to Status of Adivasi Livelihoods published in April 2022. 

The trend is similar in Odisha, with 4 per cent Adivasi households and 1 per cent non-Adivasi households with poor dietary diversity, and 69 per cent Adivasi households and 90 per cent non-Adivasi households having an acceptably dietary diversity. 

Both these states have a high tribal population, according to the 2011 Census — 22.85 per cent in Odisha and 26.2 per cent in Jharkhand. 

A major chunk of the tribal households rely on the forests they live in or live in close proximity to for their livelihood. In Jharkhand, 53 per cent of the tribal households rely on forests for their livelihood with the average distance from it being 2.2 kilometers, compared to the non-Adivasi population (28 per cent). 

In Odisha, 75 per cent of the tribal households rely on forests for their livelihood, while the average distance from it is 1.9 km. Around 63 per cent non-tribal households in the state rely on forests.

The report was put together by the Professional Assistance for Development Action (Pradan), which has been working for nearly four decades to reduce poverty and transform lives of the poorest communities of rural India through grassroots work and development programmes. 

The report covered 4,994 households (Jharkhand 3,069 households; Odisha 1,925 households), 4,135 Adivasis and 859 non-Adivasis across 16 districts, 53 blocks and villages. The survey was conducted during March-April 2021 in Jharkhand and April-May 2021 in Odisha.

A majority of the tribal population either have marginal land holdings or are completely landless, according to the report. In Jharkhand, 77.1 per cent males and 76.2 per cent females are marginal landowners. Meanwhile, 11.7 per cent males and 12.5 per cent females are landless. In Odisha, 14.5 per cent males and 14.9 per cent females are both marginal landowners and landless.

In terms of household income, wage, remittance, salary / pension, animal husbandry, farming, forest produce and others are the key contributing factors. In both Jharkhand and Odisha, wage and farming contribute the most. 

There is also a direct correlation between household income and literacy levels, where nearly more than half the tribal population in both states have no education — 53.1 per cent males and 43.7 per cent females in Jharkhand’s tribal population, 58.9 per cent males and 50.3 per cent females in Odisha’s tribal population, the report added.

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