An Anganwadi center is a hub for all the health and nutrition-related activities in the village. There are around 1000 Anganwadi centers (AWC) functioning in villages of Vijayawada rural Parliamentary constituency (VPC) and most of them do not have the child-friendly infrastructure, adequate growth monitoring devices and the staff are not skilled enough to implement the objectives of ICDS. This led to an enormous decrease in the enrollment of children and other beneficiaries. These centers can be revived and upgraded with refurbishment and provision of requisite infrastructure to Anganwadi centers.
Tata Trusts and VCF is supporting the Government of AP in achieving Poshan Abhiyan (Malnutrition reduction & Micronutrient Deficiencies) through the creation of Model Anganwadi centers, Capacity building on 1000 days of ICDS functionaries and supply of Fortified (Micronutrients) rice in Mid-Day Meals and ICDS Hot cooked meals.
To convert the AWC into a lively and blissful destination for the community to willingly send their children to spend time and engage with AWC specifically and the ICDS programme generally is the focus for Trusts. Trends also indicate that AWCs that have the requisite infrastructure, motivated and well-trained functionaries are quickly able to attract and retain their respective beneficiary base.
In this regard, Tata Trusts and VCF have taken the initiative to transform 400 AWCs in VPC through infrastructure refurbishment with the collaboration of local communities, PRI and ICDS department which also includes capacity building of ICDS the department focusing on 1000 days (Pregnancy and Infant and Young child feeding up to 2yrs) and provision of growth monitoring devices along with other basic amenities.
An Anganwadi center must have a separate sitting area for children and women, kitchen, store room, child-friendly toilets, space for children to play (indoor and outdoor activities); preschool education with the child-friendly environment and also should act as an informative counseling center for pregnant women and Lactating Mothers. But the existing Anganwadi centers do not have the above-mentioned facilities completely. So the Refurbished AWCs will provide the enabling environment to the beneficiaries and enhance the joyful learning for the kids. In addition to that, assumption is that it will improve retention rate in AWCs and create awareness on Infant and Young child feeding (IYCF) practices.
The refurbished Anganwadi centers have become a model AWCs and created a positive impact in terms of enrollment and working hours of the center as well as learning outcomes of the children. The enrollment levels are improved as compared to other centers where refurbishment is not done. When it comes to the closure of AWCs, Earlier the AWWs used to close the center by 3 clock but it has gone up to 5 o clock due to Anganwadi transformation. The learning outcomes were drastically improved solely because of beautiful and attractive art paintings which are painted on walls of refurbished centre.
The local community, PRI members, functionaries from the ICDS department got motivated when they had seen the transformation of AWCs done by Tata Trusts and decided to contribute for better development of Anganwadi center. For example, Local MPP of Vijayawada rural has declared to contribute for construction of boundary wall to the AWCs. Likewise, this project has an individual story of contribution from each village.
Mary Jacinta, an Anganwadi worker of Penumaka AWC, Guntur district says: “The services here are same as other centers. But the new look has made a world of difference. Children like to play here, and even mothers want to send their kids to this center as they are assured of proper care.” And Pregnant and lactating mothers interested to stay in Anganwadi centers for a longer time. Earlier this was not the situation. This refurbishment made them sit for long hours in the center and availing all kinds of ICDS services.
Krupa Jyothi, who brings her nine months old daughter to the Anganwadi center every day, calls it her baby’s second home. “Being a lactating mother, I am given lunch with rice, Dal with green vegetables, milk and egg daily”, she says. Kavita a mother of a four-year-old boy, said, “As the center has improved facilities, my kids love spending their time here. Children are also given a few lessons in Telugu and English. The Anganwadi environment has been changed and it keeps our children to stay more and more time in the center. The facilities provided here are on par with any private preschool in the city.”
Project in Numbers
No of Refurbished Anganwadi centers: 135+115(work is in progress)
No of Anganwadi centers to be refurbished:230
No of Children benefited through the refurbishment: 12000
No of Pregnant and lactating women benefited through refurbishment:6000