From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ICDS program
Mains level : Paper 2- Role of Anganwadi centres in ICDS
The article highlights the role of Anganwadi’s in the effective implementation and service delivery under the ICDS.
Gaps in the utilisation of services by ICDS
- The economic fallout of COVID-19 makes the necessity of quality public welfare services more pressing than ever.
- The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme is one such scheme.
- ICDS caters to the nutrition, health and pre-education needs of children till six years of age as well as the health and nutrition of women and adolescent girls.
- However, recent reports have shown gaps in the utilisation of services.
Recasting the Anganwadi centres
- Anganwadi centres (AWCs) could become agents of improved delivery of ICDS’s services.
- According to government data, the country has 13.77 lakh Anganwadi centres (AWCs).
- These centres have expanded their reach, but they need to play a much larger role in anchoring community development.
- Nearly a fourth of the operational AWCs lack drinking water facilities and 36 per cent do not have toilets.
- In 2015, the NITI Aayog recommended better sanitation and drinking water facilities, improved power supply and basic medicines for the AWCs.
- NITI Aayog also suggested that these centres be provided with the required number of workers, whose skills should be upgraded through regular training.
- It has acknowledged the need to improve anganwadi centres.
- The Central government’s Saksham Anganwadi Scheme aims to upgrade 2.5 lakh such centres across the country. It is up to the state governments to take up the baton
- Only a limited number of AWCs have facilities like creche, and good quality recreational and learning facilities for pre-school education.
- An approach that combines an effective supplementary nutrition programme with pedagogic processes that make learning interesting is the need of the hour.
Steps taken for effective implementation of ICDS
- Effective implementation of the ICDS programme rests heavily on the combined efforts of the anganwadi workers (AWWs), ASHAs and ANMs.
- The Centre’s POSHAN Abhiyaan has taken important steps towards building capacities of AWWs.
- Technology can also be used for augmenting the programme’s quality.
- AWWs have been provided with smartphones and their supervisors with tablets, under the government schemes.
- Apps on these devices track the distribution of take-home rations and supplementary nutrition services.
- The data generated should inform decisions to improve the programme.
- In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, anganwadi centres have been geotagged to improve service delivery.
- Gujarat has digitised the supply chain of take-home rations and real-time data is being used to minimise stockouts at the anganwadi centres.
Government must act on the three imperatives. First, while infrastructure development and capacity building of the anganwadi remains the key to improving the programme, the standards of all its services need to be upscaled. Second, states have much to learn from each other’s experiences. Third, anganwadi centres must cater to the needs of the community and the programme’s workers.