In the serpentine lanes of Govandi’s slums, a small room — stretching up to 100 square feet — functions as an Anganwadi centre during day and residential quarters of a slum-dwelling family at night.
About 80 per cent of the Anganwadis in Mumbai’s slums are tiny rooms serving multiple purposes, even as Anganwadi workers demand more space with the huge count of children.
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The city has 5,130 Anganwadis with the maximum of 300 being in Dharavi, followed by 269 in Wadada-Sewri. Of 5,130 posts for Anganwadi workers, 117 remain vacant.
Under the Integrated Child Development System (ICDS), Anganwadis monitor nutrition support of children aged less than six and also act as daycare centre for kids whose both parents are working labourers. Their major task is to prevent malnutrition among children and to counsel pregnant women over health practices.
“We have sent repeated requests to higher-ups for more space. Sometimes, there is no space for children to sit,” an Anganwadi worker from Santacruz East said.
In Vakola, the Anganwadi centre is a small room which slum dwellers also utilise during festivals to keeps sweets and additional items. It has 30 children registered who daily visit in the morning for breakfast and later for lunch.
In Dharavi, the size of the Anganwadi centre shrinks further. In the 50-square-foot space, the teacher and helper can hardly move. Data from ICDS also showed that there is a need for recruiting more supervisors for Anganwadis. Each supervisor has over 25 Anganwadis to monitor. In Mumbai, of the 250 sanctioned posts, only 150 have been filled. The city now has 2.68 lakh children aged less than six as beneficiaries under the ICDS. Of these, there are 49,048 moderately acute malnourished and 2,886 severely acute malnourished children.