Karnataka yet to procure smartphones for anganwadis

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Karnataka is among five states that had not procured smartphones for Anganwadi workers under the Poshan scheme, the Centre’s ambitious initiative to map every child, pregnant woman and lactating mother.

This was revealed by NITI Aayog at a recent meeting of the National Council of Nutritional Challenges.

Smartphones and tablets loaded with the Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software (CAS) are supposed to be in possession of each of the 65,911 Anganwadis and would allow the Centre to monitor every activity like which Anganwadi opened after 9.30 am or the immunisation status of children at Anganwadis.

But the state has spent only Rs 5.24 crore out of Rs 129.71 crore released by the Centre as on Thursday. This amounts to 4% of the funds. K A Dayanand, director, state Women and Child Development department, told DH that the first time it called for a tender, only one bidder responded. The second tender was called off for ‘technical reasons’ and the third tender was called off on the orders of the women and child development minister.

Asked why Karnataka was one of the five worst-performing states in terms of fund utilisation of Poshan Abhiyan, he said, “Unless we procure the smartphones, CAS cannot be loaded and our state’s activities cannot be monitored by the Centre. And unless we procure the smartphones, our expenditure won’t go up and it will not reflect as utilisation of the funds. About 90% of the scheme’s funds is about procuring phones and growth-monitoring devices, and 10% is for training activities.”

He said once the state procures around 41,251 growth-monitoring devices for Rs 23 crore and 44,000 mobile phones for Rs 42 crore by the end of January, fund utilisation will go up to 60%. Growth-monitoring devices (GMDs) consist of mother and child weighing scales, infantometers (for weighing children below the age of one year), weighing scale (for weighing children) and stadiometers (for measuring the height of children).

Each Anganwadi is supposed to be stocked with four GMDs. Till these devices reach the Anganwadis, the 1.28 lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers in the state have to make do with a simple measuring tape which is unscientific, admit officials.

But one shortcoming that officials point to in CAS is that it is not linked to the state health department’s reproductive and child health wing that has overlapping data on immunisation, anaemia, severe acute malnourished (SAM) children and children who are stunted. The women and child department’s SNEHA platform is said to be linked to the health department but unless integrated with CAS, it cannot be used for monitoring by the Centre.

The integrated tech platform SNEHA — Solution for Nutrition And Effective Health Access — built by not-for-profit research organisation CSTEP, collates data on health,
nutrition and other parameters for service delivery programmes aimed at improving outcomes for mothers and children.

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