Odisha has experienced improvements on a range of development measures due in part to a stable political environment since the year 2000. The State government was elected for its fourth consecutive term in 2014. Estimates by India’s Planning Commission suggest poverty declined by 24.6 percentage points from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 32.6 per cent in 2011-12.
Odisha has abundant natural resources: a fifth of India’s coal, a quarter of its iron ore, a third of its bauxite reserve and most of its chromite. Extractive industries, IT and medium and small enterprises dominate the industrial sector.
Due to its sub-tropical coastal location, Odisha is prone to tropical cyclones and floods as well as regular drought and floods, making it the “disaster capital” of India. While responding to disasters places a financial burden on the state, this feature has enabled it to fine tune its disaster management plans and systems. This was evident in the careful planning that contained the impact and aftermath of Cyclone Phailin which struck the Odisha coast in October 2013. Odisha received international acclaim for its efforts, and these practices have now become the hallmark of managing similar disasters.
In the past decade, Odisha has also witnessed a rise in insurgency by left wing extremists, also known as Naxalites or Maoists. This has significantly impacted the delivery of services to marginalized and vulnerable populations in Naxal-dominated areas.
Reducing maternal deaths and deaths of children aged less than five years continues to be a priority for the state. The under-five mortality rate has declined and stood at 68 deaths per 1000 live births in the Indian Census Sample Registration System (SRS) in 2012. With an increasing number of institutional deliveries, the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes has also reduced. The maternal mortality rate for Odisha is 235 deaths per 100,000 live births.
In terms of nutrition practices, undernutrition rates in Odisha fell by 10 percentage points between 1998-99 and 2005-06 while the comparative national reduction was 2.3 percentage points.
There were also improvements in Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF). Breastfeeding within one hour of birth increased to 54 per cent of mothers in the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) in 2005-6 and feeding only mother’s milk in the first six months increased to 50 percent (NFHS-3) – better than elsewhere in India. Timely introduction of complementary feeding was also higher, at 67.5 per cent compared with 55.8 percent for the rest of India (NFHS-3).
Odisha was one of the first states in India to implement the 2009 Right to Education Act. The literacy rate in the state has increased by 10 percentage points from 63.08 per cent in 2001 to 72.87 per cent in 2011, taking it close to the national average of 73 per cent.
While sanitation remains a big challenge, almost 96 per cent of households now have access to piped, pumped or well water. The state government has adopted the Indian government’s new Swachch Bharat Mission (Gramin) Guidelines through the Swachch Odisha Mission (Gramin) to eliminate open defecation using a community-led approach.
Odisha has established child protection structures and mechanisms to implement the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) within the state and districts. State-specific rules are being framed and implemented in relation to relevant legislation, such as the Juvenile Justice, Child Marriage, Child Protection, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) acts. Existing bodies such as the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, High Court Committee on Juvenile Justice, Children’s Court in all districts besides Juvenile Justice-recommended statutory structures have been established and their capacities enhanced.
At the same time the Odisha Alliance on Child Rights, a network of NGOs and networks on child rights, has been established and its capacity on rights-based programming is being enhanced. Issue-based networks such as the State Task Force on Alternative Care have also been formed.