The Status of Anganwadi Workers in Delhi

A joint study by Team SPRF and the Center for Civic Engagement.
Edited by Kausumi Saha
In 2017, the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or POSHAN Abhiyan was launched by the government of India to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. The mission was aimed at monitoring, supervising, setting targets, and guiding nutrition-related policies across ministries (PIB 2017). This was to be achieved by initially mapping all ongoing interventions to address malnutrition in the country and implementing a Convergence Action Plan (CAP) from the central to the grassroots level. An important aspect of the mission was to upgrade the data collection and monitoring at Anganwadi Centres (AWC) across the country operating under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) to improve the nutritional and developmental outcomes of
children and nursing mothers. Among the changes proposed for AWCs under the NNM were:
• Incentivising Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) to use IT-based tools.
• Eliminating registers used by AWWs.
• Introducing height measurement of children at AWCs (ibid.)
AWWs have been the frontline workers providing a package of services under the ICDS programme, launched in 1975. As such, building the capacity of this frontline force is critical to improve the delivery of services under the ICDS scheme and collect real-time data on the nutritional outcomes of children in the country. This becomes even more important when considering that the Global Nutrition Report 2019 has concluded that India is off course to meet global nutrition targets even as it has a malnutrition burden among children under five years of age. As per the report, India’s national prevalence rates of under-five stunting (37.9%) and wasting (20.8%) are higher than the developing country averages of 25% and 8.9%, respectively (Global Nutrition Report 2019). For the same reason, improving socioeconomic outcomes as well as working conditions of AWWs is essential, yet has been seldom looked at, by researchers as well as policymakers. Hitherto, studies done on AWWs have focused primarily on the efficiency of service delivery.