Nearly 44 km west of Assam capital city of Guwahati is Malipara village under Rampur Development Block in Kamrup district. Here in Malipara village, a Model Anganwadi Centre was constructed a few months ago under the aegis of the Social Welfare Department of the State Government for implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). This centre is the upgraded version of the previous centre, which was in a dilapidated State since the last few years.
This is one of the nearly 3,000 model anganwadi centres across the State virtually inaugurated by Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma on August 15, 2021.
“In the previous anganwadi centre, facilities for smooth functioning of the ICDS scheme were missing. It is better now. As a result, enrolment of children has increased in the last three months,” Minoti Das, an anganwadi worker, told Asom Barta.
Manisha Das, a beneficiary of PMMVY (Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana) scheme said she and other women had enjoyed support from the centre during their respective pregnancy.
“We come to know about PMMVY scheme from anganwadis here. Apart from having benefitted under ICDS, they had shown us ways to avail maternity benefits under PMMVY Scheme,” said Manisha, who has enrolled her 4-years-old son Madhurjya in the centre.
The Social Welfare Department is the implementing authority of ICDS and PMMVY schemes. Both are being implemented through these centres.
“We have been stressing on providing timely benefits to our targeted beneficiaries under ICDS. There has been a positive change in villagers’ attitudes, particularly among women. They no longer hesitate to avail benefits of the Government’s welfare scheme. In all the centres under my jurisdiction in the greater Rampur area, I have noticed this development in recent months. They are aware of these schemes,” said Padmashri Devi, supervisor of ICDS at Rampur ICSD block.
All the children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers are eligible for services under Anganwadi Services under the ICDS scheme.
Anganwadi Services (under Umbrella Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) was launched in 1975 with the objectives (i) to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years; (ii) to lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child; (iii) to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout; (iv) to achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and (v) to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.
The Kaitasiddhi ‘A’ Model Anganwadi centre under Chayani Barduar ICDS Project at Palasbari in Kamrup district also makes for a pretty picture. The walls are pastel shades of pink and yellow and are dotted with colourful posters of fruits and vegetables, flowers, names of months and days, and other informative charts. Toys and learning tools are neatly stacked at the back and one of the corners appears to be the designated science section.
The virtual inauguration by the Chief Minister of these centres across the State was done from the Kaitasiddhi ‘A’ Model Anganwadi centre.
“A model centre has better facilities in comparison to the previous angawadi centre. We have 24 X 7 electricity and water facilities. Our anganwadis are better trained in ICDS implementation.All care is taken of the children in the centre, including their physical and mental development,” said Gulsanara Zannat, CDPO of Chayani Barduar ICDS Project.
The intake capacity at this centre is 40. All the seats have been filled up. We get requests at regular intervals from villagers,” said Bharati Devi, an anganwadi.
Anganwadi centres are also the prime point in implementation of the Centre’s ambitious POSHAN scheme being celebrated every September.
“Nutritious foods have been provided to our children here. Anganwadis maintain hygiene in the centre. They have carried out awareness drives among pregnant women for food diversity and importance of leafy vegetables,” said Bijuli Das of Bongora Joypur village. Das is a beneficiary of PMMVY, who has enrolled her three-year-old daughter in the Kaitasiddhi ‘A’ Model Anganwadi centre.
At Bezera, 45 km north of Guwahati, the State Social Welfare department has upgraded the previous Anganwadi centre to a model Anganwadi Centre.
“Children under 6 years of age of surrounding villages have been enrolled in the Centre. We are happy that after the inauguration of the model centre, we have been able to provide services under the ICDS properly to children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers,” said Renuka Deka, an anganwadi of the Bezera Model Anganwadi Centre.
It has been made mandatory for development of Posahan Vatika (vegetable garden) at each of these centres. The objective is to increase the dietary diversity among pregnant women and children below 6.
Anganwadis are playing a vital role in inculcating hygiene behaviours, especially latrine use and hand washing with soap (after toilet use and before eating) in very young children, their caregivers (mothers), and adolescent girls.
Kalita said that since the physical and mental foundations of a child are built at Anganwadi centre, a proper infrastructure is a must to achieve the original objective.