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Women & Child Development

Vision and Mission

The Women and Child Development (WCD) Division provides policy guidance and oversees the implementation of the programmes of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD). It is broadly guided by the twin objectives of empowering women and helping them nurture their children. The Vertical also focuses on improving nutritional outcomes and the overall development of adolescent girls and boys.

 

Core Functions

  • To improve nutritional indicators, especially stunting, wasting and birth weight, and anaemia, of women and children.
  • To make policy briefs on geriatric nutrition, the age of marriage and motherhood, and urban health and nutrition.
  • To prepare reports, as per PMO’s mandate, on Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
  • To evaluate the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme of MoWCD.
  • To extend support to MoWCD to strengthen childcare institutions and the food fortification programme.
  • To develop pilots for the promotion of millets in safety net schemes, nutri-gardens in the Aspirational Districts, CSR funding of critical projects in health and nutrition in the Aspirational Districts, among others.
  • To undertake relevant research and development.

 

Who’s Who

Sl. No.

Name of Officer

Designation

E-mail address

1.

Dr Rakesh Sarwal

Additional Secretary

as-niti@gov.in

2.

Ms Anamika Singh

Director

anamika.singh1@gov.in

3.

Ms Neena Bhatia

Senior Specialist

neenabhatia.kaul@gov.in

4.

Ms Nina Badgaiyan

Senior Consultant

nina.badgaiyan@nic.in

5.

Mr Kumar Supravin

Consultant (through Tata Trusts)

kumar.supravin@nic.in

6.

Ms Vedeika Shekhar

Associate

vedeika.shekhar@nic.in

7.

Mr R.V.P. Singh

SRO

ramvinay@gov.in

8.

Tanya Agrawal
Diksha Radhakrishnan
Deepika Ghosh

Behavioral Insight Work (Working part-time at NITI Aayog through BMGF and CSBC, on the roll of Ashoka University)

tanya.agrawal@ashoka.edu.in
diksha.radhakrishnan@ashoka.edu.in
deepika.ghosh@ashoka.edu.in

 

 

Partners

BMGF and Ashoka University

NITI Aayog, in collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University, has established a Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU). The unit focuses on designing behavioural interventions to improve maternal and child health and nutrition outcomes, particularly in the Aspirational Districts. So far, the unit has developed interventions, focusing on improving compliance of antenatal check-ups and complementary feeding practices for children between 6–23 months, for the SEWA project in the Sewapuri Block in Varanasi.

 

Duke University

A robust monitoring framework to assess the quality of care provided in childcare institutions is being developed under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), which is being implemented by MoWCD. To evaluate the performance of the scheme in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in reaching the desired outcomes for children, NITI Aayog partnered with Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University. Key activities undertaken include developing and contextualising a quality assessment tool for the Indian setting, baseline, and gap assessment of alternative care settings for children in approximately 60 centres across four States: Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana. The work was concluded and a report with recommendations was submitted to NITI Aayog and MoWCD, for the inclusion of some of the indicators in the Output-Outcome Monitoring Framework for quality assessment of the scheme. Additionally, an academic paper titled, ‘Strengthening Child-Care Institutions (CCIs) in India: Variation in Government-Affiliated CCI Care Quality in Four States’, has been submitted to the journal BMC Public Health and is currently under review for publication.

 

International Food Policy Research Institute

A Statement of Intent (SoI) was signed between NITI Aayog and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on 24 April 2018. The broad mandate was to aid the technical support unit constituted within the WCD Division. Specific activities are to be decided from time to time based on mutual consultation and agreement. IFPRI is involved in assisting the preparation of the Poshan Abhiyaan Monitoring Report. Three reports have been prepared in close collaboration with IFPRI.

 

Alive and Thrive

This SoI signed between NITI Aayog and Alive and Thrive on 30 July 2019 seeks to strengthen the monitoring and supervision of the quality of public health and nutrition services during the first 1000 days of a child’s life. The objective of this engagement is to provide critical insights into the strengths, operational challenges, and opportunities of the Poshan Abhiyaan at two levels. First, at the District convergent committees under Poshan Abhiyaan, led by District Magistrates, for improving the programme’s performance. Second, at the national level to NITI Aayog to aid the programme’s improvement and timely decision-making.

 

Bernard van Leer Foundation

Recognizing the importance of early childhood care and development to enable every child to have a healthy start and achieve their full potential, NITI Aayog has collaborated with Bernard van Leer Foundation (BVLF) to provide technical inputs on surveys on early childhood care and education. BVLF will gather primary evidence related to young children and their caregivers during and post Covid-19. NITI Aayog is also in the process of collaborating with the Aga Khan Foundation and BVLF to pilot a unique model in the Aspirational Districts that will focus on the first 1000 days of a child’s life, with an emphasis on responsive parenting.

 

Line Ministries

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • Ministries of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Jal Shakti
  • Ministry of Rural Development
  • Ministry of Panchayati Raj
  • Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

 

Reports

NITI Aayog has been mandated to prepare biannual reports to appraise the progress of Poshan Abhiyaan. So far three monitoring reports have been submitted to PMO. The third report takes stock of the roll-out status on the field and implementational challenges encountered at various levels, using secondary data from surveys, such as NFHS-4 and CNNS, to predict trends in the decline of stunting, wasting and anaemia. Also, to assess how Poshan Abhiyaan can scale up the coverage of key interventions to accelerate this reduction, a modelling analysis was done using the Lives Saved Tool. The reports can be accessed here.

 

Current and Upcoming Projects

 

1. UN-NITI Meeting: Prevention of Maternal, Adolescent and Childhood Obesity in India

The recently released results of National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS 5) (for 22 states and UTs) and Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) reveal a worrisome trend of increasing overweight and obesity among Indian children, adolescents and women. Since India is committed to achieving WHA 2025/SDG 2030 targets of ‘no increase in obesity’, it is important to understand the landscape and determinants of the problem.

 

NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the United Nations, convened a high-level meeting to present evidence and seek expert view for addressing increasing cases of obesity in India. The National Consultation on Prevention of Maternal, Adolescent and Childhood Obesity was held on 24 June 2021. Read the detailed agenda and the press release

 

2. Fourth Biannual Report on Poshan Abhiyaan

Analysis for the fourth report has been completed and is in the final stages of preparation.



3. Quarterly Monitoring of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

As per the mandate under PMMVY, NITI Aayog has been assigned the task of monitoring and evaluating the maternity benefit programme. Accordingly, ten quarterly reports have been prepared with inputs received from MoWCD and shared for performance review. The efforts of the Ministry, along with constant monitoring and facilitation efforts, have resulted in the enrollment of 1.94 crore beneficiaries (pregnant women and lactating mothers) nationally and successful disbursement of Rs 7,408.60 crore under the scheme, up to 18 November 2020.

 

4. Poshan-Related Institutional Arrangements

  • National Council on India’s Nutritional Challenges under Poshan Abhiyaan: This apex body was formed by MoWCD and is chaired by Vice Chairperson, NITI Aayog. It formulates overall policies and guidelines, and monitors all nutrition-based schemes, highlighting a life-cycle approach. It coordinates and reviews convergence among Ministries for providing policy directions to address India’s nutritional challenges. 
  • National Technical Board of Nutrition: Under the chairmanship of Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, the National Technical Board of Nutrition was constituted to provide technical, responsive, and evidence-based recommendations on policy-relevant issues concerning nutrition for women and children. NITI Aayog has undertaken many initiatives to strengthen the health and nutrition sector. For this purpose, technical inputs and advice related to nutrition are sought through the Board from time to time.


5. Promotion of Millets in Safety Net Schemes

Promotion of production and consumption of millets to bring in dietary diversification have been planned and efforts in this direction are ongoing. NITI Aayog facilitated the presentation and approval of millet-based projects received from three Aspirational Districts of Telangana. The projects involved piloting decentralised procurement, production, and processing of millets. They will be implemented for two years and incur a total cost of Rs 4 crore for all three Districts. Further, the National Consultation on Promotion of Millets was constituted to invite those States already implementing certain measures in this regard (Odisha and Telangana) to share their experiences with others (Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan), who could then share potential areas of implementation.


6. Food Fortification

After successive stakeholder consultations at NITI Aayog, the Department of Food and Public Distribution proposed a Centrally sponsored pilot scheme on the fortification of rice and its distribution under the public distribution system for a period of three years, which will focus on 15 Districts initially. Recognizing the importance of rice fortification to improve nutritional outcomes, it was decided that rice fortification will be rolled out in 112 Aspirational Districts. The proposal or scheme to initiate rice fortification in the Aspirational Districts will be shared by the Department of Food and Public Distribution soon.


7. Evaluation of ICDS Scheme

The ICDS evaluation study was done in collaboration with the Institute of Economic Growth and IIT Gandhinagar. The study was undertaken in nine States and Union Territories to understand specifically the governance and implementation mechanisms and key processes under the ICDS scheme. The evaluation report was shared with MoWCD. Some of the key recommendations centred on streamlining the governance and monitoring mechanisms for supplementary nutrition to ensure greater efficacy and impact of the allocated resources. ICDS’s take-home ration and hot-cooked meals should adopt a progressive view to promote dietary diversity and coverage. ICDS should evolve as per the changing needs and aspirations of the community, particularly in the urban areas where households are drawn towards an increasingly vibrant pre-schooling environment. The quality of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) is thus emerging as a major parameter to sustain the relevance of ICDS. Gaps and inadequacies in ICDS financing, infrastructure and human resources have detrimental effects on service delivery and require renewed attention. The Ministry found the objectives and broad recommendations of the evaluation in alignment with the overall vision of the scheme. They were also of the opinion that the report is ‘an endorsement of the Ministry’s efforts towards the concept of ‘Saksham Anganwadis’.


8. Urban Health and Nutrition

NITI Aayog is in the process of developing a strategy paper, which aims to provide the way forward on promoting preventive health and nutrition service delivery and decentralising local governance for effective health and nutritional outcomes. The paper focuses on suggesting a coherent and integrated model of healthcare, which will be aimed at providing equitable and accessible healthcare in urban areas. The strategy paper has been enriched by several in-depth deliberations with State health and nutrition departments, urban local bodies, NGOs and health practitioners and academics, and experiences on field visits undertaken by the NITI team.


9. Mapping of Schemes under Global Hunger Index strategy

Schemes of various Ministries/Departments that have a bearing on the components of the Hunger Index have been mapped out and a wider strategy is being developed under Secretary, MoWCD. A series of meetings was organized under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog Vice Chairperson, Member (Health), and Member (Agriculture). The methodology and way forward for improving the rank of India in the global scenario were presented. Timebound Ministry-wise targets were made and shared with respective Ministries for improving India’s overall rank.


10. Policy Brief on SDGs

As per the policy brief developed, office memorandums have been issued to the Ministries of WCD and Health and Family Welfare so they, in turn, can nudge the States and UTs to move in the right direction by continuously monitoring and tracking their progress.


11. Engagement with CSOs

With an objective to improve health- and nutrition-related indicators on ground, NITI Aayog is trying to strengthen the jan andolan component of Poshan Abhiyaan. NITI Aayog, along with a network of NGOs/CSOs, is working towards improving health and nutrition indicators by community engagement and mobilisation. The work by CSOs/NGOs is done in identified communities to engage beneficiaries, primarily mothers, to improve:

  • Awareness about health and nutrition schemes and interventions (‘Knowledge’);
  • Utilisation of services provided by these schemes by demand generation (‘Attitude’);
  • Compliance with programme interventions (‘Practice’), which will thereby
  • Help achieve the impact of these evidence-based interventions.

 

12. Poshan Gyan

NITI Aayog, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University, launched Poshan Gyan, a national digital repository on health and nutrition. The Poshan Gyan repository was conceptualised as a resource, enabling search of communication materials on 14 thematic areas of health and nutrition across diverse languages, media types, target audiences and sources. Content for the repository was sourced from the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Women and Child Development and developmental organizations. The website provides an intuitive interface (multi-parametric search, multiple downloads at a point in time, easy sharing of materials via social media and easy viewing on any type of smartphone).


13. Policy Paper on ‘Health and Nutrition Concerns of Migrants’

The paper focuses on how the social security net in terms of nutrition and health can be made better available to this segment of the society.


14. Assessment of ICDS Service Delivery during Covid-19

An assessment was undertaken by the WCD division keeping in mind the following objectives:

  • To assess ICDS take-home ration/hot-cooked meals’ delivery during Covid-19
  • To draw insights from good practices on ICDS take-home ration/hot-cooked meals’ delivery in States

Twenty large States were approached telephonically and/or via emails to understand the service delivery systems of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme, scope of digital training, State-specific health and nutrition initiatives, and challenges being faced by Anganwadi Workers on the field. Emerging challenges and recommendations were provided in the report, shared with Vice Chairperson, NITI Aayog.