Only 7 in 100 Anganwadi beneficiaries are in cities

GS Paper II

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Prelims: urban-rural disparity in anganwadi centres

What’s the News?

For every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country, only seven are in urban areas which is primarily because of a severe lack of anganwadis in cities, leading to poor coverage of the government’s flagship programme in early childhood development.

Background:

  • Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by the Women and Child Development Ministry to provide a package of six services.
  • The services include supplementary nutrition; pre-school non-formal education; immunisation, nutrition and health education; as well as referral services.
  • The aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition. Beneficiaries include children in the age group of six months to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Acute paucity

  • This is primarily because of an acute paucity of anganwadi centres in urban areas.
  • There are as many as 13.79 lakh anganwadis operational across the country, out of which 9.31 lakh centres are linked to the government’s web-enabled data entry system called Rapid Reporting System.

As per Census 2011, 32% of India’s 1.2 billion population live in cities, though experts have said that if the definition of an urban settlement was broadened, the share of urban population will be much higher.

Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18

  • It is found that 35% of children under five were stunted and 17% were wasted.
  • It also said 22% of children in the age group of 5-9 years were stunted and 23% were thin for their age. Also, 20% of those in the 10-19 years age group were thin for their age.

Urban obesity

  • At the same time, 2% of under four-year-olds, 8% of children in the 5-9 years age group, and 6% of adolescents, were overweight.
  • Data also showed that children in urban areas showed two to three times higher prevalence of obesity as compared to their peers in rural areas.

Conclusion:

  • With these facts before it, the NITI Aayog has prepared a draft working paper to strengthen the ICDS programme in urban areas, keeping in mind challenges such as migration, population density and the long commute involved for workers and beneficiaries.