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'The Travel Allowance We Receive is Insufficient to Conduct Field Work'

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Q. Are parents sending their children to the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)? What kind of challenges are you facing in this regard?

Lady Supervisor: Most people here are not educated and aware. Parents bring their child to the centre at meal time and take them back once they eat. At present, the centre is operating from 7 to 11 am but children come to the centre at 10 am. It is a big challenge for us, and the Women and Child Development department is looking into how we can ensure children stay at the centre for longer and avail other important services.

Q. Do you see a change in the malnutrition status in children? What all is being given to children as nutritious food?

Lady Supervisor: The nutritional status of children in the area deteriorated when the centre was closed during the pandemic. During that time, we were sending Take Home Ration to their homes and transferring money to their account. In this way, we were constantly in touch with beneficiaries. However, the prevalence of malnutrition in the district had been high even before the pandemic. At present, we are serving khichdi, pulao, chiwra, jaggery, eggs to the children.

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

Lady Supervisor: According to me, the government should provide the honorarium and travel allowance in a timely manner. At present, we receive a travel allowance of around ₹2,000, which is insufficient to conduct field work for the whole month. Our allowances should increase at the same pace at which travel expenses, including fuel prices are rising.

The government took care of our safety during the pandemic and regularly provided us with masks and sanitisers.

The only thing which we do not need and yet are given is work beyond measure. During the pandemic, when the entire world was sitting at home, we were on the frontlines but we too have families and homes.

Q. What are your primary responsibilities at the moment? What challenges are you facing in their regard?

Lady Supervisor: We are still performing the same duties which we did before the pandemic. Apart from monitoring, it is my job to collect reports from all the centres.

Lack of awareness among parents and their rigid belief systems is the biggest problem that I face while doing my work. They do not send the child to the centre and nor do they want to get them vaccinated.

Q. Are Anganwadi Workers being monitored regularly?

Lady Supervisor: Yes, all the centres are working and are being monitored. Now, when we go to the centre, the first thing we check is the attendance of children, cleanliness of the centre, and the meals to be provided for the day.

Q. Is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) taking place at the AWCs? What instructions have you received regarding ECCE?

Lady Supervisor: Yes, activities are being conducted at the centres under ECCE. Children are being taught through letter and number cards. All our workers have received training for ECCE.

Q. During the last six months, what kind of problems have AWWs brought to your notice?

Lady Supervisor: We haven’t had any such problems in the last six months. Though difficulties persist in regards to the children’s attendance, and parents not cooperating with us for vaccination and improving nutritional status of their kids. We also face difficulty when the beneficiaries do not receive the complete quantity of nutritious food which they should. They do not understand why we have not been able to transfer the quantity, and even call the AWWs corrupt.

Q. Have you received any complaints regarding service delivery from the beneficiaries in the last two years?

Lady Supervisor: We have been receiving the same complaint from parents for the past two years; that nutritious food is not being given to everyone. The main reason for this is that we only receive funds for food for 65 children from the department. Even after explaining this to the people, most of the parents do not cooperate.

This interview was conducted with a Lady Supervisor in Bihar in Hindi on 9 May 2022, and has been translated.

Source: Outlook Poshan

Also Read: Understanding the Implementation of Pre-Primary Education in India

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