UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Integrated health, education and environmental intervention

To optimise infant feeding practices through schools and Anganwadi networks (rural mother and child centres) in India.

1 September 2017

The idea of developing interdisciplinary links between health, education, engineering and environment (HEEE) came directly from discussions with academic institutions, NGOs and foundations in India.

The World Bank had identified under-prioritisation of nutrition and health education as a barrier to progress, while its 2016- 2030 global strategy emphasises the need to integrate multisector enablers that address education, gender, sanitation, water, agriculture and nutrition.

This research aimed to address development issues holistically and co-design solutions with local partners using a collaborative participatory approach. HEEE networks provide us with a platform to link expertise across three diverse UCL faculties - child health, education and engineering. They also enable us to hear local voices and develop solutions together to address global challenges with global partners. HEEE aligns with Government of India initiatives such as the Clean India Mission, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (transforming rural areas) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (elementary education).

India faces a triple burden of childhood malnutrition: 48% (61 million) of children under five are stunted, childhood obesity is on the rise, and most have a micronutrient deficiency. Key government nutrition and behaviour change interventions are being implemented through frontline workers, but barriers include outreach, variable levels of access to clean water and sanitation services, social inequity and the feasibility and effectiveness of localised integration.

Future funding applications will explore how the HEEE package can be scaled up to additional India states. UCL’s interdisciplinary team is collaborating with experts from Save the Children India, The Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi (IIT-Delhi) and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (JNU). In addition, four NGO partner institutions will provide contextual and programmatic advice along with members from the British Indian diaspora.

This innovative and novel project will bring together experts from the domains of health, environment and education to work with local communities and co-develop interdisciplinary solutions for enhancing the well-being of children in rural Rajasthan, India.