Irregular supplies to Anganwadis put women and children at risk.
In today’s video, Community Correspondent Mukesh Rajak explores the issue of corruption crippling Anganwadis in his district of Devgarh in Jharkhand.
“For the past six months, Anganwadis in my district have faced severe delays in the provision of funds and supplies necessary to keep them up and running. This has taken a direct toll on children and women alike, causing them to suffer from malnutrition and sickness.” tells Mukesh.
Anganwadi centres were first set up in India in 1975 as an essential part of the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme. According to the scheme, an Anganwadi must be set up in every settlement with special focus on villages and slums so as to provide supplementary nutrition and health services to children below the age of six and pregnant and lactating mothers, and for the development of early education for children, especially that of girls.
In the budget of 2011, the Government of India allocated Rs 8,964 crore to ICDS, out of which a substantial part goes to the functioning of Anganwadi centres. “We receive Rs. 10,200 per month. In this, we aim to feed 40 children, 10 pregnant women and 15 lactating mothers.” says Anganwadi worker Koshilla Devi. Due to lack of funds, however, she, along with workers in other centres in the district, is not able to provide women and children with food and nutrients.
The World Health Organization has marked India as a country with the second highest number of children suffering from malnutrition. Burdened with problems of overpopulation, acute poverty and lack of basic health care facilities for a majority of the people, this statistic hardly comes as a surprise. For decades now, India has been trying to battle these issues, and has promised to follow guidelines provided by the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards of 2009. With corruption seeping in through the creaks, however, even the most beneficial government scheme will eventually give way.
“Because of the delay of six months in the provision of supplies to centres, one can visibly notice its effect on women’s and children’s health. People in my district are not well off; they depend on Anganwadi centres for the well being of their family.” Mukesh tells Video Volunteers. “The government has made a great deal of progress by setting up and allocating a large number of funds to Anganwadis. But when its implementation is irregular and disjointed, what is the point of the scheme? Who is it going to benefit?”