In 2013 Parliament had passed the National Food Security Act (NFSA) which ensured food and nutrition security of people as part of the life cycle approach. The Act provided a basket of entitlement for all age group be it children, women or men.
For children in the 3 to 14 years age group provision was made for free meals in Anganwadi Centers and schools under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme respectively. Section 28 of NFSA-13 also gave people the right to undertake Social Audits, get information on the actual functioning of the programme and also ensure transparency and accountability across all schemes covering NFSA-13.
In this context CFAR Bhubaneswar, under the APPI project, conducted a Social Audit exercise from November 9 to 15 , 2017 in six settlements – Harijan Sahi, Ganganagar Palli, Ganganagar Palli A, Ganganagar Hostel Site, Bhimpur Sahi and Kela Sahi- under Ward no 52 with the support of the Councilor. The aim of the exercise was to increase transparency in the functioning of ICDS and to provide critical inputs for strengthening service delivery and taking important decision related to the functioning of Anganwadi Centres.
We also conducted a Public Hearing on November 17, 2017 as a part of the Social Audit process, because it is an effective tool to identify public grievances and find solutions. Mr. Praffula Samal, Minister, WCD, Ms Chandarani Mohanty, Under Secretary, WCD, Mr. Ramakrushna Panda, National Secretary, AITUC, Mr Sridhar Behera, Councilor, Ward No 52 and Mr Hrudaya Ballabh Das, Retired Judge, took active part in the Hearing and gave their decisions after listening to 19 testimonies regarding the gaps in accessing benefits under ICDS through the 6 AWCs in the ward. Their report will be shared with the Commissioner to strengthen accountability of service providers.
The Minister WDC declared that he would like to capacitate the Janch Committee and Mother’s Committee in monitoring AWC and congratulated CFAR for conducting the Social Audit exercise. While doing so he also gave the assurance that all the gaps in the implementation of the ICDS programme would be addressed and sought CFAR’s support in conducting yet another Social Audit exercise after 3 months to see if any difference has been made post this Audit. The Panelists have meanwhile decided to form a state level committee to monitor the quality and quantity of the supplementary nutrition that was being provided and assess whether the services being delivered were in keeping with the Act.