Open forum on anganwadis, Aug 2007

Anganwadis are centres run by the government for young, underprivileged children under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme (ICDS). These centres provide health, nutrition and early learning. The ICDS deserves attention as it is the largest service provider reaching young children, involving large public expenditure. In Karnataka alone there are over 40,000 anganwadis.

A study coordinated by Sutradhar and Karnataka FORCES members in 2002 showed that there are many factors that inhibit services from reaching the young child. The Open Forum was organised to understand ways in which non profit organisations (NGOs) are currently involved in improving anganwadis.

Four NGOs were invited to share details of their work. The forum was moderated by Dr. Usha Abrol, a board member of Sutradhar who retired as the head of NIPCCD. She said that given the magnitude and extent of the ICDS programme there are bound to be service delivery gaps and a certain degree of ‘programme deterioration’. 


In 1997, MAYA began to organise centres for young children, as a preventive strategy to combat child labour. MAYA runs 180 centres catering to over 5000 children. In 2005, MAYA started working with the ICDS because it is the largest service provider and the possibility of having an impact was huge.

Today MAYA works with 305 anganwadis. The intervention involves monthly trainings for the anganwadi staff, where they learn how to develop lesson plans and use local material in the teaching-learning process. Community meetings are regularly organised so that parents can dialogue with anganwadi workers on their expectations.

Belaku Trust

Belaku has been working in Kanakapura taluk since 1995 in community health. As the ICDS programme has a health component for women and children, they started interacting with anganwadi workers. In 2006 they began a more active involvement with anganwadis in 6 villages. This entailed providing a helper or gelathi to assist the anganwadi worker; making the ICDS curriculum more interesting; and involving the community in taking ownership for the services provided.


Akshara has worked in Karnataka since 2000 in education. They assist women in running balwadis in the community. As a pilot initiative they started working with 40 anganwadis in 2004-05.  Today they work with 313 anganwadis. The intervention involves the implementation of a holistic child development module. An Akshara volunteer visits the anganwadis and offers support. Trainings are organised for the anganwadi workers, assessments are carried out and children enrolled in government schools. They have developed a primer, Shishuvachana, to improve language learning.

Centre for Child and the Law (CCL)

CCL works in the realm of advocacy for child rights. They took up a field project of studying anganwadis in order to understand how policies get translated at the community level. They found great discrepancies between government data and their own data. In one habitation with no anganwadi, they began to run one. Their analysis suggested that interventions with anganwadis should focus on nutrition, hygiene and preschool intervention.