'We are Focusing on the Delivery of the ICDS Services'
Q. Are parents sending their children to the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)? What kind of challenges are you facing in this regard?
Lady Supervisor: Yes, parents are sending their children to AWCs regularly. We arranged for children to come on a rotational basis, however, this is not being followed. The Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) can’t ask parents to not drop their children at the centres.
Q. Do you see a change in the malnutrition status in children? What all is being given to children as nutritious food?
Lady Supervisor: Not much, but malnutrition prevails. I feel that malnutrition is more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas, which we are trying to address. The Village Child Development Centres (VCDC)* are also in operation. We are still giving Take Home Ration (THR) and not hot-cooked food to the children, but I feel that it is not as efficient as other family members also consume part of the THR.
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 necessary things have been provided? What more should have been provided?
Lady Supervisor: AWWs and Supervisors were working in the field during the pandemic but we weren’t given oximeters or hand gloves.
AWWs received masks and we continued to receive assistance from the Women and Child Development department for service delivery, like THR. Also, the workers received the money they were owed for extra work.
Q. What are your primary responsibilities at the moment? What challenges are you facing in their regard?
Lady Supervisor: We are focusing on the delivery of the six services under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). At the moment, our responsibilities include ensuring that the children receive quality education and nutrition; conducting monthly meetings; relaying information and guidelines from the Block level to AWCs and ensuring their implementation; and checking, maintaining, and updating records.
The biggest difficulty we are facing is that we are given a lot of extra work due to which our regular work suffers. For example, we have been asked to verify the list of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana - Gramin (PMAY-G) beneficiaries at present; this work has no relation to our work, but we still need to do it.
Q. Are AWWs being monitored regularly?
Lady Supervisor: Yes, since the centres are open and operating regularly, we conduct monitoring as well. We mainly check records at AWCs, ensure if the THR is being distributed properly, check if pregnant women are receiving adequate services, if visits to beneficiaries are regular, and whether check-ups are being conducted for all beneficiaries.
Q. Is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) taking place at the AWC? What instructions have you received regarding ECCE?
Lady Supervisor: Earlier, not much was being done, but just around last month, we received training from the Education department about ECCE. We instructed the AWWs as per our training, and things are progressing accordingly.
Q. During the last six months, what kind of problems have Anganwadi Workers brought to your notice?
Lady Supervisor: We did not receive many queries other than some related to their village. In this regard, we attended meetings with panchayats to find out how panchayats will spend the 10 per cent funds they are supposed to spend on AWCs. The panchayats wanted to spend the money in a way that differed from our needs, so we negotiated. Moreover, we spoke to the Secretary and Sarpanch about installing tap connections for drinking water at our centres.
Q. Have you received any complaints regarding service delivery from the beneficiaries in the last two years? Conversely, have you received such complaints from AWWs?
Lady Supervisor: A few months back, we did not receive THR for about two to three months due to delays. We received complaints about the same, but we informed the beneficiaries about the delays and later provided them the THR for all those months together.
We also received some feedback expressing dissatisfaction with check-ups for pregnant women, so we talked to an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and contacted the beneficiary about it.
This interview was conducted with a Lady Supervisor in Maharashtra in Hindi on 26 April 2022, and has been translated.
*Government of Maharashtra’s VCDC scheme, launched in 2005, aids in home-based management of children affected by severe acute malnutrition (SAM) through provision of nutritious and energy dense food by enrolling them at local AWCs. The scheme provides for six nutritious meals a day for 30 days, including calcium, iron, and folic acid supplements for SAM children.