Strengthening Government Anganwadis

Anganwadis are government-run childcare centres for children under 6 years. In 2016, Seva Mandir had the opportunity to collaborate with the government through the Khushi Project, with a CSR partner (see Current Projects). This project, covering 3,000 Anganwadis across five districts in Rajasthan, seeks to strengthen the functioning of Anganwadis. We are currently working with 1,345 Anganwadis in five areas of Udaipur district which provide health and nutrition services to 60,000 children under 6, and day-care services to children of 3-6 years. Our work involves interventions on nutrition, preschool education, health and hygiene, community engagement, infrastructure improvement and monitoring.

Ahead of this new project, Seva Mandir conducted research to assess the situation of Anganwadis and the involvement of communities. The studies 

found that Anganwadis were not open as much as they should be, that the attendance of workers and children was low, children were not receiving proper nutrition, the centres did not have the required teaching/learning material, the infrastructure of the centres was very poor and communities didn’t have any involvement in Anganwadis. Seva Mandir agreed to apply what it has learned through its Balwadi and malnutrition programmes to the Anganwadi project and in this way has helped improve the efficacy of Anganwadis,


Impact

As a result of our efforts, the regularity of Anganwadis’ opening has improved from 86% to 93% (monitored by our weekly visits and the use of date- and time-stamped photographs) in three years. Furthermore, the presence of Anganwadi employees has improved from 54% to 64%, with Anganwadi employees commenting that they are more satisfied with their job since the start of Seva Mandir’s participation in the project.

The intervention has also led to an increase in children’s attendance, with over half of all Anganwadi children attending regularly. Children’s performance on cognitive indicators has increased from 31% to 81%, and performance on language indicators from 50% to 79%. Anganwadis are now seen much more as activity centres, whereas before they were little more than feeding centres.

There has been improved community engagement, with almost half of local communities making contributions which in total amount to over INR 2,700,000 (approx. USD 40,000), whereas before Seva Mandir’s intervention this was nearly zero.

We will continue to work to strengthen Angawadis and to ensure their proper functioning.


Advocacy

Seva Mandir has been advocating change in the Angawadi model for a long time. In rural communities, women have numerous responsibilities and need to be involved in earning money for their family, which obliges them to be away from home for long hours. While they are away from home, young children are either left under the supervision of older siblings, depriving the latter of schooling, or are taken along to the worksite, exposing them to harm. Converting Anganwadis to full day-care centres can help women by allowing them to leave their children at a safe and secure place while they work and do their chores.

In the last three years, through our work with government Anganwadis, we have been able to intensify our efforts towards advocacy on childcare. We will continue these efforts, hoping to persuade the government to convert at least 5% of the Anganwadis in our area into full-day centres (at present they only operate for four hours a day) and extend centre-based care to children under three (at present they only offer these children health and nutrition services, not day care). We also expect that government will open more Anganwadis to cater to inaccessible areas.

 

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