Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, President of CORE has been nominated by the government of Manipur as an expert member of the newly constituted State Mission Steering Committee (SMSG) for providing direction, policy and guidance for implementation of the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) programme, a.k.a. “Anganwadi” scheme, in Manipur.
The ICDS scheme is a national programme under the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. For a brief official introduction to the salient features of the programme, please click the link below:
The ICDS scheme is a centrally sponsored programme funded by the World Bank and supported by UNICEF, the Child Rights organisation if the United Nations system. Project P121731 of the World Bank [India: ICDS Systems Strengthening & Nutrition Improvement Program (ISSNIP)] is an active project. The borrower is the government of India, and the project application was approved in 6 September 2012, and the closing date is 31 December 2015. Total project cost is US$ 151.50 million and the Commitment amount is US$ 106.00 million. (Total project cost includes funding from World Bank and non-bank sources in US$ millions. Active and Closed projects show commitment at Board approval. It does not reflect any cancellations. Proposed (pipeline) and dropped projects show the forecast amount. The commitment amount for projects in the pipeline is indicative and may be modified during the project preparation.)
For basic information of the World Bank’s project, please click on the link below:
However, the ICDS programme faces many challenges despite some success stories, and there is tremendous potential for improvement in implementation and impact. According to a World Bank report, “India’s primary policy response to child malnutrition, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program, is well-conceived and well-placed to address the major causes of child undernutrition in India. However, more attention has been given to increasing coverage than to improving the quality of service delivery and to distributing food rather than changing family-based feeding and caring behaviour. This has resulted in limited impact.”
In the World Bank evaluation report, “while the program is intended to target the needs of the poorest and the most undernourished, as well as the age groups that represent a significant “window of opportunity” for nutrition investments (i.e. children under three, pregnant and lactating women), there is a mismatch between the program’s intentions and its actual implementation.
“Key mismatches are that:
(i) The dominant focus on food supplementation is to the detriment of other tasks envisaged in the program which are crucial for improving child nutritional outcomes. For example, not enough attention is given to improving child-care behaviors, and on educating parents how to improve nutrition using the family food budget.
(ii) Older children (between 3-6 years) participate much more than younger ones and children from wealthier households participate much more than poorer ones. The program fails to preferentially target girls, lower castes or poorest villages (all of whom are at higher risk of undernutrition);
(iii) Although program growth was greater in underserved than well-served areas during the 1990s, the poorest states and those with the highest levels of undernutrition still have the lowest levels of program funding and coverage by ICDS activities.
“In addition to these mismatches, the program faces substantial operational challenges. Inadequate worker skills, shortage of equipment, poor supervision and weak M&E detract from the program’s potential impact. Community workers are overburdened, because they are expected to provide preschool education to four to six-year olds as well as nutrition services to all children under six, with the consequence that most children under three—the group that suffers most from malnutrition—do not get micronutrient supplements, and most of their parents are not reached with counseling on better feeding and child care practices.”