Swahar: Mother and child health program through millet-based nutrition interventions - United Way India

Swahar: Mother and child health program through millet-based nutrition interventions

Swahar: Mother and child health program through millet-based nutrition interventions


Food and Nutrition security is indispensable for the holistic development and growth of every individual especially during the formative stages of life i.e. pregnancy and early childhood. It is of utmost priority that we should invest in mothers and children for a safe and sustainable future. 

India launched the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) in the year 1975 with the goal to fight malnutrition and delivery of health and nutrition services to mothers and children at their doorstep especially in the remote tribal and rural regions. Aanganwadi (mother and child care centers) centers were set up as a unit under the ICDS in every village to deliver health and nutrition services. It is one of the largest programs in the world to deliver health and nutrition services for mothers and children.

The Need

Despite rapid growth, India struggles with food and nutrition security. Hunger and malnutrition persist, hitting women and children hardest—especially in remote areas and urban slums. Addressing mother and child malnutrition is essential for social progress and economic growth.

This crisis has lasting socio-economic consequences, worsened by inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene in rural, tribal, and slum communities. Poverty, unemployment, and migration compound the problem, making women and children vulnerable. India ranks 107th out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2022, indicating serious hunger levels. The decline in rank highlights a critical issue.

Jessica Fanzo, Co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report, emphasizes that well-nourished children are more likely to escape poverty, excel in school, and contribute to economies. Good nutrition is a cornerstone of future development.

NFHS-5 data reveals that only 11.3% of Indian children receive an adequate diet. Pandemic-induced challenges have worsened the situation. Surviving children face heightened infection risks and compromised growth potential. Focused health and nutrition interventions are imperative to address this crisis and uplift mothers and children.

In 2023, declared the international year of Millets, United Way India leads the charge by promoting millets as low-cost, nutritional superfoods inspired by traditional recipes, aiming to improve overall wellbeing.

The Benefits

  • Improvement in health indicators among mothers and children.
  • Improvement in cognitive and behavioral development.
  • Improvement in academic performance and retention to join schools.

Our Intervention

The program works towards providing access to nutritious and millet based food and aids holistic development of  underprivileged children and women attending the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centers. 

Project Swahar, in rural belts of Pune:
Since April 2023, United Way India has been supporting 4600+ beneficiaries at 435 Aanganwadis (mother and child care centers) catering to children under 6 years of age, pregnant and lactating women.

Each beneficiary receives a monthly supply of traditional and healthy food packets that include millets such as Ragi, Sorghum and Pearl millet.


4600 beneficiaries which includes children under 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating women

Impact Till Date

  • 435 Aanganwadis (mother and child care centers) supported
  • 4600 beneficiaries of millet based nutrition kits (children under 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating women)
  • 435 Aanganwadis (mother and child care centers) workers received training on capacity building for usage of nutrition kits

To know more, write to us at info@uwindia.org

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