‘Have not Received any Financial Incentive during the Pandemic’
22 May 2022
The ‘Inside Districts’ series launched in April 2020 is a one-of-its-kind attempt to capture the experiences of district and Block-level officials, Panchayat functionaries, beneficiaries, and frontline workers, on their challenges and best practices.
This interview was conducted with an Anganwadi Worker from Bihar in Hindi on 24 April 2022, and has been translated.
Q. Have regular activities started inside the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) since it reopened? What instructions have been given regarding maintaining COVID-19 appropriate behaviour?
Anganwadi Worker (AWW): Our centre has been running from November 2021 and all the activities including godbharai and annaprashan [community-based events] are taking place
We have received guidelines from the LS (Lady Supervisor) and CDPO (Child Development Project Officer) to maintain COVID-19 appropriate behaviour such as physical distancing between children and washing hands regularly. Other than this, routine immunisation and ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) activities are taking place. More children come to the centre now, than before.
Q. What is the malnutrition status in your locality? Is hot cooked food being served to children?
AWW: The state of nutrition is fine in the locality. For children who are more sick or weak, I recommend them to go to the PHC (Primary Health Centre).
Yes, I started serving hot cooked food to all the children last November itself. Apart from this, I also give advice about vaccinations and nutritious food, like milk, vegetables, and pulses.
Q. Are there any challenges in your work that you are currently facing? According to you, what is the solution for them?
AWW: The COVID-19 period was very difficult, as all the services had to be provided door-to-door. But there is no such problem now.
Presently, the biggest problem is filing documents on the Poshan tracker app [which tracks key nutrition parameters among children, girls, and pregnant and lactating women] as it does not work properly. The tracker does not send our applications even after they are filled. When I talk to our seniors, they ask us to check the internet connection. It does not work even when we are on field going from door-to-door which causes a lot of problems. We do not have any solution for it.
Secondly, all children from 6 months to 3 years of age need to be linked to the Poshan tracker using Aadhaar, only then they can be given the Take Home Ration (THR). But getting Aadhaar for such young kids is a difficulty according to their guardians, due to which we face difficulty in providing THR. That’s why I give THR according to the register these days and not according to the tracker.
Q. According to you, during the COVID-19 pandemic, were there things which the government should have provided but did not?
AWW: During the COVID-19 period, we only received one mask and sanitiser, that too just once. Our pay is also little and that too is not given on time. No incentive was given even during the COVID-19 period. [Bihar had not announced pandemic-related incentives] I used to work all day at a vaccination camp, but no monetary incentive was provided for that either.
We do not need anything else from the government, but at least they could increase the salary and pay it regularly. One can not run their house on such a meagre salary [about ₹6,000 per month], especially since everything is becoming more expensive day by day. For the past two years, neither children nor AWWs have been provided money for uniforms and yet on inspection days we are asked to wear them. How is that possible?