Bhubaneswar: Despite the Odisha government’s concerted efforts to transform the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) through Anganwadis, the non-availability of Anganwadis in tribal-dominated districts, lack of adequate infrastructure, and lack of its implementation pose a significant challenge to achieving holistic development among children, pregnant and lactating women in rural Odisha, revealed a survey report conducted by NGO Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha.
The survey, which was conducted on 7694 Anganwadi Centres, covering 9856 villages under 866 GPs of 89 blocks in 15 districts of Odisha, revealed that out of 9856 villages surveyed, 81.04% Anganwadis in the state lack basic functional toilets. Similarly, 71.47% (5499) AWCs lack access to safe drinking water facilities in the state.
● Out of 9856 villages surveyed, 19% (1894) villages do not have any form of Anganwadi centers
● As per the population norm for setting up new Anganwadi centers, the study report revealed that 11.1% (1090) villages needed to set up a mini/main AWC
● The study findings further revealed that out of 7964 Anganwadis surveyed, 12.74% (1045) AWCs do not have their building and are being run in a rented space.
● Assured availability of safe drinking water in the household premises, schools, and AWCs to help improve health and sanitation. But the study reported that 26.97% (2148) of AWCs have no source of safe drinking water facilities in their premises and drinking water facilities in 57.62% (3351), AWCs are defunct. So, 71.47% (5499) AWCs lack access to safe drinking water facilities in the state.
● A toilet in Anganwadi is an add-on and creates a vital role in teaching hygienic behavior among children. However, 41.39% (3296) AWCs do not have toilet facilities. And, out of 4668 AWCs with a toilet, 67.65% (3158) are not functional. So, a total of 81.04% AWCs lack basic functional toilets in the state.
● Regarding the kitchen facilities in AWCs, 31.19% (2484) of them do not have special kitchen facilities.
● Though irregularities in providing Take Home Ration (THR) are comparatively lower (9.73%) than other components, tribal-dominated districts such as Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri and Kandhamal, and Kandhamal have reported higher rates of irregularities. In Rayagada, 21.45% (201) of villages have reported irregularities in providing Take Home Rations (THR).
“Given the way the ICDS scheme functions in the state and especially in rural areas, Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) are akin to the main battle tank in a war theater and therefore need to be relooked from the lens of its immediate, underlying, and critical impact on malnutrition.
The state government must establish new mini/main AWCs as per existing norms immediately. For the balance of 10% left-outs, children must be enrolled in nearby AWCs so that they do not miss the benefit of nutrition and early learning initiatives. Also, the government needs to improve the dilapidated AWC buildings by repairing and painting them on a priority basis,” CSOs urged.
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