Jean Drèze calls for regular surveys to be conducted in India

Development economist Jean Drèze has called for more regular health and nutrition surveys to be conducted in India as a first step towards implementing more effective policies.

Drèze, who is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics at Allahabad University, criticises the fact that no comprehensive nutrition survey has taken place in India since 2005-6, when the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) was conducted. The results of NFHS-4 are not expected to be available until 2015 at the earliest — a full 10 years after the NFHS-3.

“The first step towards more effective nutrition policies in India is regular monitoring of the nutrition status of the population, and particularly that of children,” Drèze writes in an article in the Hindustan Times titled ‘No bread, lots of beer‘.

“India’s much poorer neighbours — Bangladesh and Nepal — are conducting regular health and nutrition surveys, and keeping much better track of the state of their children. In both countries, there is evidence of sustained improvement in nutrition-related indicators, such as the heights and weights of children, or the body mass index of adults. Similar evidence is yet to emerge in India.”

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire and Research Officer Suman Seth expressed their hope that new surveys would be conducted in India in the briefing ‘Multidimensional Poverty Reduction in India 1999-2006: Slower Progress for the Poorest Groups‘. They were unable to analyse how India has reduced multidimensional poverty since 2006 because of a lack of data.