Lady Pradhan’s Inititaive in Establishing Demand and Supply of Iodised Salt in Lakhaiya Kala
Lakhaiya kala is a small village located at a distance of 12 kms from the block headquarters at Balha in district Bahraich. Most of the population here belongs to backward castes who are educationally backward as well. Regarding dietary habits most of the population here consumes Baragara (dhela) salt which is poor in iodine content specially when used after the practice of washing the salt before using it for cooking purposes. Kaushalya Devi’s (the Pradhan of the village) family was also consuming non iodised salt until one day she came in contact with the Coordinators of BETI Foundation who were surveying the village for promoting high impact interventions in the village with the support of UNICEF.
In a number of contacts made by the Coordinators, Kaushalya eventually got convinced about the importance of iodine in one’s diet when informed about iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) and benefits of consuming iodised salt to fulfill the requirement of iodine by the body & when the poor content of iodine in the salt was also demonstrated through salt testing kits. Pondering seriously over the health of the many pregnant women, infants and children most vulnerable to IDD, she then joined hands with the Foundation to form a Community Support Group (CSG) in the village which includes active and influential members of the village community. In the brainstorming sessions that followed in the monthly meetings of the CSG to address this problem, she took an initiative to set an example by changing her own behavior first by discarding Baragara salt & began using packaged iodised salt.
She asked the Foundation for Salt Testing Kit so that iodine content in salt used by the community could be demonstrated to them. In her own words, “….humein jankari na hone se hum dhela namak ka prayog karte the, ….ab jab ki humein jankari ho gayi hai……to hum swayam to iodine yukt namak ka prayog karte hi hain, balki doosre logon ko bhi grih bhraman ke dwara jagruk kar rahe hain…..” Armed with the kit in hand CSG members Subedar Verma, Alok, Ajay, Urmila Soni, Arti Verma were then found testing the salt in different households while explaining the benefits of iodised salt to them at the same time.
Having generated high awareness and as a result of it enhancing the demand for iodised salt the question that now rose was of arranging adequate supply of iodised salt in the village at a place where it is easily available at reasonable rates. The Pradhan representative and CSG member Jagatram had a word with the Kotedar , Kailashnath in this regard and requested him to arrange supplies of iodised salt for the benefit of the community members. Kailashnath readily agreed to the same. The CSG members have also decided that the ‘Iodised Salt Revolution’ would continue over time through monitoring of the salt supplied by the Kotedar for adequate iodine content. It would also be seen whether salt is properly stored & thereafter used.