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Odisha’s 71% anganwadis don't have access to safe drinking water, 81% lack toilet facility

By Our Representative 

Despite the Odisha government claimed efforts to transform the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) through anganwadis, their non-availability in tribal-dominated districts, lack of adequate infrastructure, and lack of its implementation pose a significant challenge to achieving holistic development among children, pregnant and lactating women in rural Odisha.
A survey report conducted by NGO Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha, conducted on 7,694 anganwadi centres, covering 9,856 villages under 866 gram panchayats of 89 blocks in 15 districts of Odisha, says that 81.04% anganwadis lack basic functional toilets and 71.47% (5,499) lack access to safe drinking water facilities.
Stating that these are “worrying trends”, the report says, out of the 9,856 villages surveyed, 19% (1,894) villages do not have any form of anganwadi centers, pointing out, as per the population norm for setting up new anganwadi centers, 11.1% (1,090) villages need to set them up.
Further, 12.74% (1,045) anganwadis do not have their building and are being run in a rented space, 26.97% (2148) of AWCs have no source of safe drinking water facilities in their premises and drinking water facilities in 57.62% (3,351 anganwadis are defunct. So, 71.47% (5499) AWCs lack access to safe drinking water facilities in the state.
Stating that a toilet in anganwadi is an add-on and creates a vital role in teaching hygienic behavior among children, the study says, “However, 41.39% (3,296) of them do not have toilet facilities. And, out of 4,668 anganwadis with a toilet, 67.65% (3,158) are not functional. So, a total of 81.04% anganwadis lack basic functional toilets in the state.”
Regarding the kitchen facilities in anganwadis, 31.19% (2484) of them do not have special kitchen facilities, the study says, adding, though irregularities in providing Take Home Ration (THR) are comparatively lower (9.73%) than other components, tribal-dominated districts such as Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri and Kandhamal have reported higher rates of irregularities.
“In Rayagada, 21.45% (201) of villages have reported irregularities in providing THR”, it adds.
“Given the way the ICDS scheme functions in the state and especially in rural areas, anganwadi centres are akin to the main battle tank in a war theatre and therefore need to be relooked from the lens of its immediate, underlying, and critical impact on malnutrition”, the study insists.
“The state government must establish new mini/main anganwadi centres as per existing norms immediately. For the balance of 10% left-outs, children must be enrolled in nearby anganwadis so that they do not miss the benefit of nutrition and early learning initiatives. Also, the government needs to improve the dilapidated anganwadi buildings by repairing and painting them on a priority basis,” it urges.

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