MP Smriti Irani sheds light on Anganwadis’ route to modernisation, nutrition

Four steps have been taken for modernisation of Anganwadi centres and upgrading facilities there, Parliament was told on Friday.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said that revised joint guidelines were issued by her ministry as well as the Ministries of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj for construction of 4 lakh Anganwadi Centres (AWC) buildings across the country under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in convergence with Anganwadi Services.

The second step is that under the Swachhta Action Plan, Rs 10,000 per AWC is provided for drinking water facilities and Rs 12,000 per AWC for toilet facilities.

The third step is sanction of grants for the purchase of water filters, furniture and equipments, etc, and the fourth is for provision of smart phones to anganwadi workers (AWWs) for efficient service delivery, the Minister said.

During the pandemic and the lockdown, all anganwadi centres across the country were were closed, but to ensure continuous nutritional support to beneficiaries, AWWs and helpers distributed supplementary nutrition at the doorsteps of beneficiaries once in 15 days.

Also, workers and anganwadi helpers have been assisting the local administration in community surveillance, creating awareness as well as other work assigned to them from time to time, she added.

The government is committed to improving nutrition outcomes in the country and several programmes have been launched to deal with malnutrition, Parliament was told on Friday.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said that the government has implemented Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) as targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country.

Sharing relevant details pertaining to the Global Nutrition Report, she said that several steps have been taken to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes with a focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, steps have been taken to improve nutritional quality and testing in accredited labs, strengthen delivery and leverage technology to improve governance, the Minister said.

The Centre has advised states/UTs to ensure that the quality of supplementary nutrition conforms to prescribed standards laid down under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and regulations under them, she said.

States/UTs have also been advised to promote use of Ayush systems for the prevention of diseases related to malnutrition, she added.

A programme to support the development of ‘Poshan Vatikas’ at Anganwadi centres to meet the dietary diversity gap leveraging traditional knowledge in nutritional practices has also been taken up, Irani added.

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