The Anganwadi Services Scheme is open to all eligible beneficiaries and the only pre-condition is that the beneficiary has to be registered at the nearest Anganwadi centre with Aadhaar identification, according to new guidelines of the ‘Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2’ policy. The Women and Child Development Ministry, however, clarified that a child’s Aadhaar card shall not be mandatory for availing benefits under the Anganwadi Services Scheme and the same can be accessed using the mother’s Aadhaar card.
“The Anganwadi Services Scheme is open to all eligible beneficiaries on demand, irrespective of caste, religion and income criteria. The only pre-condition is that the beneficiary has to be registered at the nearest Anganwadi Centre with Aadhaar identification," it said. Under the ‘Scheme for Adolescent Girls’, beneficiaries will require Aadhaar numbers to avail benefits, the guidelines stated.
“The beneficiaries for the scheme will be adolescent girls in the age group of 14-18 years who will be identified by the states concerned. All beneficiaries will require Aadhaar number to avail benefits under the scheme," it said. Under ‘Poshan 2.0’, the scheme for adolescent girls has been revised, and the targeted beneficiaries now comprise girls in the age group of 14 to 18 years in aspirational districts of states, including Assam and the northeastern states, instead of out-of-school girls in the age group of 11-14 years earlier.
The government on Tuesday released new guidelines for the ‘Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2’ policy that aims to look at interventions to address malnutrition concerns. The guidelines also promote Aadhaar seeding of beneficiaries under the scheme to ensure last-mile tracking of take-home rations and tracking of migration of pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Under the guidelines, AYUSH systems shall be integrated under Poshan 2.0 for wellness and nourishment. AYUSH shall propagate the campaigns of ‘Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family’ and AWCs and households to encourage beneficiaries to practice yoga and stay healthy.
According to the guidelines, the Ministry of AYUSH shall extend technical support for scheme implementation, recommend simple Ayurveda interventions to improve digestive capacity, populate ‘Poshan Vatikas’ (nutrition gardens) with medicinal plants and saplings, technical assistance, etc., recommend local recipes integrating locally grown vegetables and food substances, red rice, various millets. Also, seven lakh AYUSH registered practitioners shall converge with states/UTs to derive maximum benefits from Poshan Vatikas through formulation of regional meal plans etc.
The guidelines also mention that growth measurement is essential for all children. “Efforts shall be made for 100 per cent measurement of the children. Any child who could not be measured in a particular month has to be compulsorily measured in the following month," it said.
According to the guidelines, only jaggery should be used for sweetening and “white sugar should not be used in the meals" provided to the beneficiaries. “Use of jaggery, fortification with indigenous plants like moreng (sahjan/drumstick) and ingredients that provide higher energy intake in smaller volume of food to be promoted," it said.
The guidelines also state that the food items for ‘Take-Home Ration’ (not raw ration) and ‘Hot Cooked Meals’ (HCM) are specific to the states and shall include locally grown or available wholesome fruits and vegetables. Food ingredients used in supplementary nutrition shall comprise cereals, pulses, millets (coarse grains), nuts and some fat to increase the energy content. Millets should be mandatorily supplied at least once a week and suitably integrated in THR and HCM in a palatable form, it said.
The guidelines further state that social audit shall be undertaken by stakeholders, such as the poshan panchayats, mothers’ groups and the village health sanitation and nutrition committees. “Direct feedback shall also be obtained from those who have availed Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0," it said.
The evaluation of the scheme shall be conducted by a third party of repute to be nominated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, it added.