Mothers in M.P. to help check malnutrition

The Madhya Pradesh government has issued an order for the appointment of committees led by mothers to ensure better monitoring of services delivered at anganwadi or day care centres across the State. These mothers will keep a watch on weekly ration distribution to beneficiaries as well as suggest nutritious and tasteful recipes for meals served to children at the centres, in a move that is aimed at strengthening community response to the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the State.

Called ‘Matru Sahyogini Samiti’ or Mothers’ Cooperation Committees, these will comprise 10 mothers at each anganwadi representing the concerns of different sets of beneficiaries under the Integrated Child Development Services, or National Nutrition Mission — children between six months to three years, children between three years and six years, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

According to the order issued earlier this month, the committees will include mothers of beneficiary children as well as be represented by pregnant women and lactating mothers who are enrolled under the scheme. The anganwadi scheme includes a package of six services delivered at the centres, including supplementary nutrition, health services including vaccination, early education, among others.

The Committees will also include a woman panch, women active in the community and eager to volunteer their support to the scheme, teachers from the local school, and women heads of self-help groups (SHG).

The mothers will monitor the weekly distribution of take-home ration as well as coordinate with SHGs engaged in preparing hot cooked meals for daily distribution to beneficiaries at anganwadis to ensure good quality. They will also suggest ways to make such food tasteful and nutritious; ensure that all children as well as pregnant women and lactating mothers due for vaccines receive them; and stay alert about malnourished and severely malnourished children in the community, ensuring they receive benefits from anganwadis, and make parents of such children aware about the benefits available to them through the government.

“With the help of mothers, we will be able to turn anganwadis into a community health system, a nutrition management centre, and spread awareness against social evils. These will turn into a model for local governance as well as allow for greater engagement between communities and the State government. Our commitment to this also shows that we are opening ourselves to public scrutiny and improving accountability,” Swati Meena Nayak, Director, Women and Child Development Department of Madhya Pradesh, told The Hindu.

The move is being taken as per the mandate of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).

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