Demonetisation effect: Anganwadis struggle to feed children amid cash crunch

Anganwadis in the country are struggling to feed children due to rise in the cash crunch after demonetisation took effect on November 8.

Demonetisation effect: Anganwadis struggle to feed children amid cash crunch

Anganwadis in the country are struggling to feed children due to rise in the cash crunch after demonetisation took effect on November 8.

As much as 14 lakh anganwadi workers who run the world's largest infant and child nutrition program called Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS)  are struggling to provide food to babies and children, and to expectant women.

Since there was no help from the government side, self-help groups came forward to help anganwadis. They borrowed money, stood in bank queues, pleaded with officials and even spent from their own meagre savings to feed the children and expecting mothers.


In a country where more than half the children below six years are anaemic and over a third wasted (weight lower in proportion to height), the ICDS program is a life line. But the sudden ban on high-value currency notes left the
ICDS network floundering and kids hungry.

Anganwadis have also seen a six per cent decline in the number of children drawing nutrition from the anganwadis compared to the previous month, according to monthly data put out by the ICDS which is run by the women and child development ministry. Nearly 16 lakh children did not get the prescribed cereals and vegetables.

Compared to the average monthly attendance of children in anganwadis for the past eight months, there has been a drastic decline in November of 16% for boys and 14% for girls. That is about 23 lakh boys and 19 lakh girls. Part of a reason is a continued squeeze on the fund for the program.

Anganwadis also provide nutrition supplementation to pregnant women and nursing mothers, an important function because anaemia and malnutrition are rampant among mothers, with resulting deprivation for their babies too. Demonetisation has had a much more serious effect on this. November saw a decline of 10% compared to October in the number of pregnant women getting meals and health checkups at anganwadis, as per the ministry's data