Decentralisation of ICDS Feeding Programmes

Recent decades have seen significant progress in child survival. In contrast to this progress in reducing childhood undernutrition is slow. Maternal undernutrition, long-term exposure to poor diet and repeated infections impacts children’s nutritional status. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a major national programme that addresses the needs of children under the age of six years. It seeks to provide young children with an integrated package of services such as supplementary nutrition, healthcare and preschool education. These services are provided through ICDS centres, also known as “Anganwadis (AWC)”.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has passed several orders to streamline and strengthen ICDS. The first major interim order was issued on 28th November 2001. Further orders were issued on 7th October 2004. This was followed by a landmark judgement regarding the ICDS scheme on 13th December 2006. This landmark judgement, which was the culmination of a long series of Court hearings on ICDS, clearly orders the government to ensure “universalisation with quality” in a time-bound manner.
The key directions from these Court orders that form the frame for this initiative are:

* The universalisation of ICDS involves extending all ICDS services (Supplementary nutrition, growth monitoring, nutrition and health education, immunization, referral and preschool education) to every child under the age of 6, all pregnant women and lactating mothers and all adolescent girls.
* Every ICDS disbursing centre in the country shall provide as under:
1. Each child up to 6 years of age to get 300 calories and 8-10 gms of protein
2. Each adolescent girl to get 500 calories and 20-25 grams of protein
3. Each pregnant woman and each nursing mother to get 500 calories & 20-25 grams of protein
4. Each malnourished child to get 600 calories and 16-20 grams of protein.
* Contractors shall not be used for supply of nutrition in Anganwadis and preferably ICDS funds shall be spent by making use of village communities, self-help groups and Mahila Mandals for buying of grains and preparation of meals.
* Local women's Self Help Groups and Mahila Mandals should be encouraged to supply the supplementary food distributed in Anganwadis centers. They can make purchases, prepare the food locally, and supervise the distribution.

Government of Odisha took an in-principle decision to implement decentralized procurement of food stuffs with effect from April 2011 under Supplementary feeding programme and Emergency feeding programme.