India

Anganwadis struggling due to cash crunch

25 Dec 2016 | By Supriya
Demonetization and cashless Anganwadis

Since demonetization was announced on November 8, it has impacted lakhs of small children that rely on Anganwadi centres for meals.

The cash crunch has severely impacted the government-run nutrition supplementation program that caters to pregnant women and small children.

Angandwadi workers have been relying on their own meagre savings and have resorted to borrowing money to keep meal programmes running.

In context: Demonetization and cashless Anganwadis

AboutAnganwadi Centres in India

The 'Integrated Child Development Service' was launched in India in 1975.

It's a government welfare program which provides meals, preschool education, basic healthcare to children below 6 and to pregnant/lactating mothers.

It's the largest infant and child nutrition program worldwide which is run by Anganwadi centres in rural areas.

Anganwadi workers also assist with National Rural Health Mission and help prepare midday meals.

25 Dec 2016Anganwadis struggling due to cash crunch

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How bad is the fallout?

Ripple effectHow bad is the fallout?

The sudden invalidation of high-value notes, have left Anganwadis floundering and leaving kids hungry.

Compared to October there was a 6% decline in November where children didn't get nutrition from Anganwadis: this translates to 16 lakh children.

These children also likely missed out on scheduled health check-ups as well as immunization shots.

Pregnant and lactating women were also deprived of meals and health check-ups.

Dire straitsHow are Anganwadi centres coping?

Angandwadi workers were unable to withdraw cash as local rural banks were rationing cash.

Children in some occasions were given dried food as there was not enough for vegetables and cereal; food to pregnant women had to be cut down to prioritize the children.

Pregnant and nursing mothers are often acutely anemic or suffer from malnutrition: the cash crunch has hit them hard.

Fears of system collapse

In a statement, Anganwadi workers have warned that if expenditure to run centres is not reimbursed adequately, the welfare scheme could collapse. The Anganwadi workers could lose jobs and this would impact children and women's health across villages.