3 years on, a mere 30% of Poshan Abhiyaan funds used

Young Indian children rest at a malnutrition rehabilitation center run by a non-governmental organization Apnalaya in Mumbai, India, Monday, April 15, 2013. A United Nations Children’s Fund report has found that more than a quarter of children under age 5 worldwide are permanently "stunted" from malnutrition, leaving them physically and intellectually weak and prone to early death. The report published Monday in Dublin says better provision of vitamins, clean water and breastfeeding could have helped these 165 million children achieve normal brain and body development. The country with the largest number of stunted children is India with 61.7 million, or 48 percent of all Indians under age 5. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)  

The State governments and the Union Territories utilised a mere 30% of the funds released under the Poshan Abhiyaan, or the National Nutrition Mission, since it was launched in 2017.

Barring Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the governments used even half of the sum granted in the past three years, according to an analysis of the data shared in Parliament.

The Poshan Abhiyaan, the Centre’s flagship programme, is aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022. It is meant to benefit more than 10 crore people and was launched after a Cabinet decision on December 1, 2017, with a total budget of ₹9,046.17 crore for three years, 50% of which is through budgetary support, which is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories without legislature.

A grim picture

3 years on, a mere 30% of Poshan Abhiyaan funds used

The remaining 50% is from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks. As a result, the Centre’s total share will be ₹2,849.54 crore.

With the three-year period drawing to a close, an analysis of the funds utilised paints a grim picture.

According to the information given by Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani in the recent session of Parliament, a total of ₹4,283 crore was disbursed by the Centre to different States and Union Territories.

Of this, ₹1,283.89 crore was utilised until October 31, 2019, or only 29.97% of the funds granted. Figures were not available for 2017-2018 as the scheme was launched at the fag end of the fiscal.

Mizoram on top

The five best performers were Mizoram (65.12%), Lakshadweep (61.08%), Bihar (55.17%), Himachal Pradesh (53.29%) and Meghalaya (48.37%). The worst five performers were Punjab (0.45%), Karnataka (0.74%), Kerala (8.75%), Jharkhand (13.94%) and Assam (23.01%).

During 2019-20, funds were released for 19 States, though 12 of them had used less than a third of the funds released in the previous two years.

“The programme was conceptualised as one to be implemented in phases. It is, thus, expected that utilisation will increase over years. A number of activities had a slow start but are now picking up. These include the Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software (ICDS-CAS) meant to monitor anganwadis ...However, given the stiff targets, translating the activities into outcomes will be critical, and that remains to be seen,” says Avani Kapur, Fellow of the Centre for Policy Research and Director at the Accountability Initiative.

The CNNS, released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in October, showed that 35% of children under the age of 5 are stunted and in this age group, 17% are wasted (low weight for height) and 33% underweight (low weight for age).

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 9:50:14 AM |

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