Bhuj is a city in the very west of India, located in Gujarat state, one of the fastest growing states in India. Around 300,000 people live in the city.In 2001, Bhuj was devastated by an earthquake, which killed around 12,000 people, and destroyed 40% of homes.The region has also been affected by conflict. While Bhuj is growing economically, children are nonetheless still faced with various issues. They are vulnerable to gender inequality and malnutrition.
Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bhuj.
Gender inequality is a major issue in Gujarat. To illustrate, in the state, 31% of girls were forced into marriage before the age of 18. 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 Gujarat speak for themselves: the literacy rate for men is 87%, while the literacy rate for women is 73%. This is partly due to the fact that girls often drop out of school much sooner than boys.
Although India has experienced a rapid economic growth over the past years, food insecurity is still recurrent, and many people still suffer from acute hunger.
Parents in Gujarat state struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children.
And thus, 39% of children are underweight. To be more specific, 39% of children in Gujarat experience stunting (low height for age), a result from undernutrition. Furthermore, 25% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had food of adequate quality and quantity.