ICDS Program- Anganwadi Centres
It has been recently noticed that for every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country, only 7 are in urban areas. This has been identified as due to lack of Anganwadi centres in urban areas which denies children in urban areas of certain benefits under ICDS. How can the ICDS program be strengthened in urban areas?
Introduction: (up to 30 words) Give introduction to Integrated Child Development Services launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development
Body: (up to 100 words) Consider the benefits of implementing the scheme in Urban areas and take up some general steps that may be taken up by the Center, State and also at Local level.
Conclusion: (up to 30 words) Comment on the importance of implementing the same.
According to the government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI), for every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country, only 7 are in urban areas. This is primarily because of a severe lack of anganwadis in cities, leading to poor coverage of the government’s flagship programme in early childhood development.
There are as many as 13.79 lakh anganwadis operational across the country, out of which 9.31 lakh centres are linked to the government’s web-enabled data entry system called Rapid Reporting System. Of those anganwadis that can be monitored online, 1.09 lakh centres are in urban areas and the remaining 8.22 lakh were in rural areas of the country.
- Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by the Women and Child Development Ministry to provide a package of six services.
- The services include supplementary nutrition; pre-school non-formal education; immunisation, nutrition and health education; as well as referral services.
- The aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition. Beneficiaries include children in the age group of six months to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Government Response to Improve Anganwadis in Urban Area:
The NITI Aayog has prepared a draft working paper to strengthen the ICDS programme in urban areas, keeping in mind challenges such as migration, population density and the long commute involved for workers and beneficiaries.
Some measures to strengthen the program:
The Central Government’s intervention would be on laying policy / guidelines strengthening convergence with key sectors, initiating decentralised planning and support for capacity development at all levels, monitoring and evaluation, providing more human and financial resources to drive reforms and accountability, and sharing the best practices across and within states/districts. In particular, the Central Government would continue to play a leadership role in areas such as:
- Institutional capacity development, including development of partnerships with nongovernmental stakeholders such as professional bodies, national councils, other related institutions of excellence. Ensuring requisite and sustainable human and financial resource investments in child development.
- Effective monitoring, analysis of programme implementation experience, feedback and mid-course corrections, conduct of comprehensive field based reviews and commissioning independent evaluation/studies as needed.
- Convergence with related sectors/ministries to facilitate an enabling and supportive policy environment and enhanced resources.
- Ensure public information, social audits, grievance redressal and other public accountability mechanisms function effectively.
While recognising the leadership and implementation role of the states, it is expected that the states would:
- Undertake action to create a separate department of Women and Child Development (if not done already) and move towards creating a dedicated cadre for ICDS and adequate human resources, meet state commitments, increase their resources and expenditure on the child development sector by a stipulated percentage every year over the Mission period.
- Ensure that where posts are vacant for more than 60 days, interim contractual arrangements / outsourcing are made and an indication is given when State PIPs are finalised.
- Ensure decentralised planning and implementation arrangements to ensure that need-based and community-owned District Child Development Action Plans become the basis for interventions in the child development sector, converging interventions from related sectors.
- Constitute missions and other related structures / institutional mechanisms and enhance training capacity, as specified.
- Progressively devolve sufficient administrative and financial powers to the ULBs, depending upon the state context- to improve the reach, coverage, quality, supervision, monitoring and effectiveness of childcare services.
At District level:
- Establish strong managerial capacity at the block / project would be the essential link between villages and districts.
- Make State, District, and Block / Project level offices responsible for (i) planning (ii) community awareness and mobilisation (iii) capacity building at village level (iv) facilitating inter-sectoral convergence, especially with NRHM, SSA, TSC and (v) monitoring and feedback.
- Support the development of management capacities at the district level so that progressively, DPOs and their technical support units are equipped professionally.
- Make management structures at all levels accountable to various committees / mission structures, i.e., National-Level Mission/Steering Group, State-Level Mission and District / Block / Village level mechanisms.