As Cold Intensifies, Attendance in Aangawadi Centres Drops to Zero

20141231-0011Mahoba district. As the mercury drops across north India, children attending aanganwadi centres and schools are feeling the bitter cold in villages of Bundelkhand, and refusing to leave their homes to visit the centres.

In Asthaun village in Mahoba district, the aanganwadi worker Shahida Khaton said, ‘This year has been particularly cold in Mahoba. I have been running this centre since 1991 and have never seen the children suffer so much because of the cold.’ The aanganwadi helper Kusum says, ‘Everyday when I go to gather children to come to the centre, their families refuse to send them. They say that in this cold they won’t send their children out of the house to the centre.’

The story is similar in Thurat and Naugaon villages where Sumitra and Ajmila Begum, the aanganwadi workers, say that they sit from morning to afternoon in empty aanganwadi centres. Sumitra said, ‘If winter holidays in schools have been extended then the same rule should apply to aanganwadi centres. We are not authorized to shut the centres of our own accord. If we make that call, then action could be taken against us.’

District Programme Officer for Child Development, Rameshwar Pal said, ‘There is no provision for closing the centre due to the cold. This is an order that has to be issued from the government. There is nothing that we can do about it at our level.’

P.S.: A part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme which was launched by in 1975, Aanganwadi centres are run in villages to address issues of health and malnutrition in children. Nutrition supplements distributed at these centres regularly are supposed to enhance child growth and nutrition. 

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