In the first six months in Jharkhand, more than 55% of the 18,288 surveyed recipients of nutritional supplements for the most vulnerable under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) never received them from the state. The report was released on Monday during the “Federal Public Hearing and Policy Dialogue” on the implementation of the ICDS services of the Women’s and Child Development Department, which the Right to Food Campaign ran with various other organizations.

As part of the ICDS program, children aged 6 months to 6 years, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, receive supplementary nutrition, non-formal preschool education, nutrition and health education, vaccinations, health checks and referral services through Anganwadi services such as and through the health department. Complementary nutrition, including a take-away ration (THR), hot cooked meals, and morning snacks, is important for many vulnerable households as it affects children’s nutritional outcomes. Jharkhand is especially important because every second child in the state is stunted and underweight, and every third child is stunted, and every 10th child is severely wasted, and about 70% of children are anemic, according to National Family Health data Survey-4 shows.

The ICDS survey in Jharkhand included a total of 8,818 families in 159 blocks. It covered 7,809 eligible children aged 6 months to 3 years, 6,560 in the age group 3 to 6 years and 4,459 pregnant women and breastfeeding families. Of the families surveyed, 96.8% or 8525 families were registered with Anganwadi Services.

In Jharkhand, 11.26 lakh children are aged six months to three years, 15.78 lakh children aged three to six years, and 7.21 lakh pregnant and nursing mothers are to be covered by 38,432 Anganwadi Centers.

Ashrafi Nand Prasad of the RTF campaign said 10,371 beneficiaries were not receiving a ration. He added: “The minimum cost per beneficiary is 8 rupees per day for hot cooked meals, or THR, and must be given 25 days a month, ie 200 per person per month. More than 35 lakh beneficiaries are to be covered in one year, which in 12 months is Rs 70 crore, which corresponds to 840 crore. Now it should cost about 420 crore rupees every six months … Extrapolation of our survey results to the entire state, ie more than 55% were not given a ration in the first six months – it appears that the supplements worth more than 200 crore were not sent to the beneficiaries handed out.”

Last December, the state government approved the cabinet to commission “capable and experienced manufacturers” with the delivery of regular THR foods. The manufacturer will provide “micronutrient fortified, high-energy foods” to the state’s 38,432 Anganwadi Centers. “This will be done through a tender process with transparency. THR will have nutritious sweet salt Daliya, “said former cabinet secretary Ajoy Kumar.

Interestingly, during the reign of Raghubar Das, the involvement of private companies in the delivery of THR – or take-away – was ceased and it was turned over to the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society – the department of rural development – which later trained SHGs for this purpose. However, sources in the JSLPS said the government plans to return it to the SHGs. “However, the amount spent on SHGs is given in lakhs. You helped the government, but the reimbursement process is very tedious. The government needs to set aside a revolving fund like NREGA to implement this program instead of running it in reimbursement mode. “