‘Beneficiaries will be enrolled via a mobile application which will create a schedule of dates on which vaccination is due’.
Armed with technology and the concept of convergence, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) intends to create a network of 11 crore volunteers that will contribute to the Poshan Abhiyan’s execution at various levels.
Explaining how the concept of convergence among ministries will help the WCD fulfil its manpower requirement for “Swasth Bharat Preraks”, Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, WCD, said, “We have 24 lakh anganwadi workers, a lot of self-help groups under the Ministry of Rural Development, 870,000 government school teachers, four lakh Swachh Bharat Preraks and other people from different co-operatives under WCD and other ministries. Adding all of them up, we will have a workforce of 11 crore people who will be deployed for Poshan Abhiyan. With this, we intend to curb malnutrition and ensure proper vaccination of children.”
Other than convergence among various ministries, the WCD hopes to introduce transparency by use of technology. Srivastava said, “The beneficiaries of the Poshan Abhiyan will be enrolled via a mobile application which will create a schedule of dates on which vaccination is due. We have created a control room in our ministry from where we will be able to monitor the progress of every child who has been registered as under-nourished. To motivate our huge network of volunteers, the WCD has also kept aside a fund of Rs 1.50 crore for giving incentives to the best performing volunteers.”
Apart from bringing various groups to act as volunteers for Poshan Abhiyaan, convergence is also being brought in place on other schemes. For constructing a single Anganwadi Centre (AWC), the WCD provides Rs 1 lakh for material component, Rs 4.50 lakh is given under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for the labour component and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is responsible for providing drinking water and toilets.
The Poshan Abhiyaan is India’s third attempt to dedicate a scheme for the eradication of stunting and malnutrition. Poshan Abhiyan was first conceived in 2003 during NDA rule, but the scheme could never take off. The second attempt was made in 2008, but the challenges remained the same. However, now, the WCD intends to achieve its set targets under the Poshan Abhiyan through the use of its control room and co-operation between different ministries.
India has made significant progress in lowering malnutrition. Between 2006 and 2016, stunting in children below five years declined from 48% to 38%; however, according to the National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, nearly every third child in India is undernourished.
Poshan Abhiyan intends to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively. All the states and districts will be covered in a phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20.