Begu Sarai is a city located in the Bihar state in Northeastern India. Around 250,000 people live in the city.The state of Bihar is one of the most populous states in India, but also one of the poorest ones. Around 50% of the state’s population are living in poverty, and 51% suffer from food deprivation. Bihar’s economy is mainly focused on agriculture, but this sector is affected by regular floods and droughts.
People in Begu Sarai do not only have to deal with poverty and natural disasters, but also with gender inequality and malnutrition. Children are most vulnerable to these different aspects of life in Begu Sarai.
Since 2005, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Begu Sarai
Gender inequality is a major issue in Bihar. For example, in the state, 45% of girls were forced into marriage before the age of 18. This is one of the highest percentages in India, and it has already decreased from 75% in the past. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound.
Furthermore, literacy rates in Bihar speak for themselves: the literacy rate for men is 76%, while the literacy rate for women is 55%. This is mostly because girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys.
Due to the prevalent poverty in Bihar state, food insecurity is still recurrent, and many people still suffer from acute hunger. Parents in the Bihar state struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children. And thus, 41% of children are underweight. To be more specific, 42% of children in Bihar experience stunting (low height for age), a result from undernutrition.
Furthermore, 22% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had enough good quality food.
The government is offering food provision programmes in Bihar, however more needs to be done.