The government will soon set basic nutrition standards for the states in the revised Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
Indian children are considered even more malnourished than the ones in sub-saharan Africa. Over 40 per cent of Indian children are malnourished and the figure is more than 50 per cent in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The Women and Child Development Ministry has decided that the Memorandum of Understanding will be signed with the state governments on specific goals for reducing malnutrition. The MoU will also have specific goals for promoting early childhood development, a ministry official said.
The ICDS, which received flak from the Supreme Court for poor implementation, is being restructured on the pattern of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission. About 30 per cent of the funds under the scheme would be earmarked for infrastructure development including anganwadi centre buildings and baby toilets, an official said. Each anganwadi centre would cost Rs 1.75-2 lakh.
The government is also looking at public private and community participation for childcare and bringing in transparency and accountability in delivery of services. “We would like to involve NGOs, Panchayati Raj Institutions and mother committees for monitoring,” an official said. The government also talks about convergence of various schemes through state, district, block and village coordination committees.
In the revised scheme, the ministry wants the states, except northeastern states, to share the financial burden. For northeast, the centre will bear 75 per cent burden of total project cost, an official said. The funding pattern adopted is similar to the one for SSA, strongly opposed by the state governments.
Ministry officials say the revised scheme would be implemented before end of 2007.