Small efforts go a long way

By Mihir Kumar Jena, District Manager

Imagine the potential impact of a society where women and children are socially and economically acquainted. Angul Pusti Adhikaar Abhiyan’s (APAA) community awareness programme aims to enlighten and enhance the thought process of women and children living in areas which have high incidence of malnutrition. This helps them to build an attitude to deal with everyday situations and issues, and to take important decisions of life and most importantly believe in themselves.

The motto of our community awareness programme is development of village community’s social skills through group activities like community meetings, door to door surveys, rallies, road shows and community counseling. APAA community awareness programme is a step-by-step process. On one hand, the process starts by communicating with a community to bridge the gap of provision of services laid down by government and the actual services rendered to the beneficiaries. And on the other hand, joining hands with government agencies, local leaders and state leaders to highlight the importance of nutrition services.

Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is the largest scheme by the Indian government to overcome under nutrition. And APAA has played a part to make communities aware about their entitlements under this scheme.

To give an example of how community awareness meetings have empowered communities we will look at Belapasi, a tagged village of Jagannathapur Anganwadi Centre (AWC) which comes under Injidi gram panchayat of Pallahara block in Angul district. The population of this hamlet are majorly tribals and their primary occupation is agriculture.

On June 26, 2019, a meeting was organized with most of the beneficiaries and their family members where our block level and GP level members explained the benefits of Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) and five other important services of ICDS with the help of a job aid. Post the awareness meeting, the community members said that they were receiving only eight eggs as part of their Take Home Ration under SNP. As per the government guidelines, the beneficiaries (pregnant and lactating mothers and children aged 6 months – 3 years) are supposed to get 12 eggs per month as THR in Odisha. We requested for 100% attendance on THR distribution date.

Since July 2019, beneficiaries and their family members are reaching the AWC on THR distribution day and receiving and consuming THR as per the guidelines. In addition to this, growth monitoring is happening regularly after villagers demanded this right too.