A tribal dominated tagged village demands its own mini AWC

By Aloka Datta Behera, Block Coordinator

Hatimunda is a tagged village of Ranjana village of Batisuan Gram Panchayat under Pallahara block in Angul district. Distance of this village from block headquarters is 10 km and from district headquarters is 90 km. This village is 2 km far from Ranjana Anganwadi Centre, the nearest Anganwadi Centre. Hatimunda is a tribal village which is situated at the riverbank of Bramhani and has a cover of a dense forest.  Kolho and Munda tribes reside here. Their livelihood depends upon wage labor, agriculture, agricultural labour and fisheries. Illiteracy and marginal income are the biggest enemies for their development.

APAA conducted a community awareness meeting at the village in July for information sharing on Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) under ICDS and Mamata Yojana. After an hour of conversation and discussion regarding the services, we became familiar with the community’s challenges and hurdles. All the beneficiaries who were present understood their health and nutritional needs and shared their experiences of irregularity in ICDS services due to lack of information and distance from the AWC.

From the meeting, it became clear that 25 eligible children, aged 3-6 years, were deprived of their nutritional need of a Hot Cooked Meal, which is given six days in a week at an Anganwadi Centre. Also two pregnant women, 4 lactating women and six children aged 7 months – 3 years, who were Take Home Ration beneficiaries were not getting regular ICDS services. The mothers were not able to access VHND counseling sessions, health checkups, regular SNP distribution and immunization because of distance from the Anganwadi Centre.

The biggest challenge for APAA members was to ensure access to an AWC and to bring the beneficiaries in the main stream to avail regular ICDS services. Discussions with local leaders and community revealed that the best way to overcome these challenges was to submit an application to setup an AWC. Since the population of the hamlet was around 200, this seemed like the most viable option.

Though setting up a mini AWC in a tagged village involves a lengthy process, but it is not impossible.

We discussed with the Batisuan Sarpanch, or village head, Smt. Anjali Kisan, the need for a Mini AWC at the tagged village and presented all the facts and figures of Hatimunda village and. Then a consecutive meeting was held with the Sarpanch and the community where we drafted an application for the requirement of mini AWC and we took signatures of community people on the application. Category-wise beneficiary details were highlighted in that application which indicated the urgent need for setting up a mini AWC.

Smt. Kisan then took this application to the next level. She went to Pallahara Child Development Project Officer’s (CDPO) office with Naib Sarapanch and block level APAA members. We met with CDPO madam and told her about the problems and challenges of Hatimunda village and submitted an application to set up a mini AWC. Thus, we were able to successfully, with the help of local leaders, assist the community in submitting an application for a mini AWC which would benefit more than 30 children and around 10 mothers.