Q. What are your responsibilities at present? Are there tasks you are currently undertaking with departments other than the Women and Child Development (WCD) department?
Child Development Project Officer (CDPO): At present, my primary duties include inspection of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) and organising monthly meetings with Supervisors, where they are directed about the implementation of instructions received from the district at the Anganwadi level.
Also, in the last year, meetings have been held under the aegis of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the District Magistrate office. In these meetings, under the POSHAN Abhiyan, a strategy is being made to bring MAM (Moderate Acute Malnutrition) and SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) children back to normal. We are coordinating on this with the district administration.
Q. What challenges are you facing currently? According to you, how can they be solved?
CDPO: At present, some AWCs of our project are being run in private buildings and we are facing problems with the respective rent agreements. No one wants to rent their building on the rate fixed by the department, so we are finding it difficult to convince property owners. The department has its own centres, but only a few. The problem can be solved if the department takes a decision to increase the amount given for rent.
Q. What guidelines related to COVID-19 were given by the WCD department to the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) for reopening?
CDPO: According to the departmental guidelines we received, AWWs have been instructed to use masks and sanitisers at the centres, and to take special care of cleanliness while preparing hot-cooked food. Organising any kind of festivals and fairs, other than community-based events like Godbharai and Annaprashan, is not allowed at the centres.
Q. Is nutritious food being provided at the AWCs?
CDPO: Yes, hot-cooked food is being served at each centre since 3 March 2022. Nutritious food is being served as per the weekly menu like before the pandemic. This includes biscuits, porridge, and nutrimix for breakfast, and pulses, rice, and khichdi for the day's meal.
Q. AWCs remained closed for a long time due to the pandemic. What changes have you noticed in the malnutrition status in children? If something has changed, then what steps are being taken by the government?
CDPO: We haven’t seen much change in the malnutrition status. In my Block, six children are severely malnourished, while 35 others are moderately malnourished.
Q. What instructions have you received from the district or the state on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)?
CDPO: We have not received instructions from the district to conduct activities related to ECCE till now. At present, preschool activities are being conducted with the children at the centre.*
Q. Are AWWs still performing duties related to the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, what are they?
CDPO: No, AWWs have not been given any additional work related to COVID-19 at present. They are performing their regular tasks.
Q. According to you, during the COVID-19 pandemic, were there things which the government should have provided but did not?
CDPO: Earlier, there were 10 vacancies for the post of supervisor in our block, out of which only 5 posts have been filled. Due to which I have additional responsibility (have to manage the work of vacant posts as well).
Supervisors have also been given additional responsibility as District Protection Officer, in which they have to visit the court.** Due to this, regular work is affected. We are facing problems in monitoring AWCs and relaying guidelines and instructions to AWWs.
This interview was conducted with a Child Development Project Officer in Himachal Pradesh in Hindi on 27 April 2022, and has been translated.
Source: Deccan Herald
*The ECCE curriculum framework includes a range of activities, including preschool education, for holistic and integrated development of children between the ages of 0 and 6. Access the framework here.
**The role of District Protection Officer including protection of child rights, women against domestic violence, and other vulnerable populations, this includes informing citizen about legal rights. The post holder has frequent engagement with judiciary for multiple issues.