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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

UP’s malnutrition fight needs more steam

Challenge: State has 2100 non-functional Anganwadi Centres with 46% stunted and 40% underweight children

lucknow Updated: Jun 27, 2019 13:21 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh failed to spend almost half of the allocated funds for setting up AWCs in 2017-18 while Rs. 90cr remained unspent in 2016-17.
Uttar Pradesh failed to spend almost half of the allocated funds for setting up AWCs in 2017-18 while Rs. 90cr remained unspent in 2016-17.(Representative image)

Uttar Pradesh, which sends the maximum number of lawmaker to the parliament, faces a big malnutrition challenge, with 46% stunted and 40% underweight children.

What makes this challenge more acute is the deficient number of Anganwadi centres (AWCs), responsible for disseminating a number of schemes to deal with malnutrition among children and women. There are 1.88 lakh Anganwadis against the total sanctioned 1.90 lakh, while more than 2,100 AWCs are non-functional in the state housing 15% population of the country.

  • Underweight : 39.5%
  • Severely underweight: 12.2%
  • Wasted: 17.9%
  • Severely wasted: 6%
  • Stunted: 46.2%
  • Severely stunted: 21.2%

A recent baseline analysis of the country’s progress in achieving the second sustainable development goal to end hunger, prepared by the UN World Food Programme in collaboration with the ministry of statistics and programme implementation predicted that the country will have nearly one in three stunted children by 2022.

Even as the state government has been claiming high spending and more focus on children-related infrastructure, the government told the Parliament recently that Uttar Pradesh failed to spend almost half of the allocated funds for setting up AWCs in 2017-18 while Rs. 90cr remained unspent in 2016-17.

“It is quite unfortunate that the state has less than required Anganwadis despite the unspent funds. Since the centre is controlling important issues through sustainable development goals (SDGs), we are expecting some positive changes,” said Devki Singh, a child rights activist.

However, funds are not the only cause failing children. Poor implementation of schemes is equally responsible. But the fund flow is getting drained over the years. In the last decade, funds saw a fluctuating increase in micronutrient supplementation programmes, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs) and diarrhoea control activities. The government record revealed that Rs. 10cr was spent by the state in 2016-17 that decreased to 9.80cr in 2017-18 and Rs. 7.14cr in 2018-19 for these schemes.

An activist Ramayan Yadav said all Anganwadis which were functional did not serve the purpose. “The situation is not good in rural areas. You will find many centres locked and others filthy. Accountability is also an issue. This (Anganwadi) programme should not run like other government schemes. Any laxity is criminal as this is related to children, our future,” he said.

State women and child development department official Puneet Mishra said the government had adopted a different approach. “Our focus is on implementation of schemes. We also held a meeting today where several issues were discussed. We are aware of the stats. Our efforts will yield results soon,” said he.


A Lok Sabha constitueny-wise analysis of malnutrition revealed that of the 10 worst Lok Sabha segments in terms of nutrition, eight are from Uttar Pradesh, including Bahraich (63.6%), Shravasti (61.3%), Kaiserganj (59.7%), Gonda (58.3%), Domariyaganj (56%), Dhaurahara (54.9%), Sitapur (54.6%) and Badaun (54%). Shahjahanpur, Jaunpur and Badaun also figured in the tally of districts in underweight category.

Badaun has (52.7%) underweight children- third worst in the country while Shahjahanpur (51.9%) is fifth and Jaunpur (51.8%) seventh. Among the 10 worst segments with anaemia, Jalaun and Muzaffarnagar figured from Uttar Pradesh. Around 79% children in Jalaun and 77.65 in Muzaffarnagar were found anaemic. Shahjahanpur, Rampur, Pilibhit, Saharanpur and Sambhal are also among the worst 20.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 11:58 IST

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