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'Since the Anganwadi was Closed for a Long Time Malnutrition has Increased'

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Q. What are your duties and responsibilities at present? Are there tasks that you are currently undertaking with other departments?

Child Development Project Officer (CDPO): There have been no changes in my duties and responsibilities. Like before, I have to monitor the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs), collect the reports through Lady Supervisors on time, consolidate them before submitting them to the district, ensure that food provisions reach the centres, make annual plans, etc.

We also work with the Department of Health, but we can’t call it an ‘other department’ since some of the services provided at AWCs are operated by it. One can even say that the health department and ICDS work hand-in-hand to enable the provision of six different types of services at the AWC.

Q. What challenges are you facing currently?

CDPO: The biggest problem in this area is the lack of education, which results in a lack of awareness. People don't understand how their or their children’s lives can be improved. When we visit AWCs , we see there are around 8 to 10 children in each family, all in poor nutritional condition.

The second problem in our area is that a majority of AWCs here are currently being run in a rented building and are in a critical condition. Centres are being run by securing building edifices with bamboo. Due to this, the centres can’t run optimally.

Q. Is nutritious food being provided at the AWCs?

CDPO: Not all beneficiaries are getting nutritious food at present. Earlier, food supplies for 96 people were given to one centre but now we are only receiving funds to provide for 65 people. The main reason for this is that the department does not have funds for nutritious food at the moment.

Q. AWCs remained closed for a long time due to the pandemic. What changes have you noticed in the status of malnutrition in children? If something has changed then what steps are being taken by the government?

CDPO: Since the centre was closed for a long time during the pandemic, the prevalence of malnutrition has increased. Even during COVID-19, we were sending Take Home Ration (THR) door-to-door; some beneficiaries were also given money through Direct Bank Transfers (DBT). In this way, we tried to remain in touch with the beneficiaries. But another thing to note here is that the district’s malnutrition rate was higher than that of other districts even before the pandemic hit.

Q. What instructions have you received from the district or the state on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)?

CDPO: We have been instructed from the state and the district that all AWWs who have received ECCE training need to ensure that ECCE activities are being conducted for the children at their respective centres. We have been asked to provide support and solutions to AWWs if they face any problem in this regard.

Q. According to you, during the COVID-19 pandemic, were there things which the government should have provided but did not? On the other hand, what necessities were provided?

CDPO: There is a shortage of resources in the office from the government’s side, due to which the work is severely affected. We are in need of a generator, printer and inverter, and we are also short on human resources here.

This interview was conducted with a Child Development Project Officer in Bihar in Hindi on 9 May 2022, and has been translated.

Also See: Health and Nutrition Services during COVID-19

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