Telangana’s Anganwadi network ‘BETS’ big on this application

Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion develops a system to monitor centres and plug loopholes.

By Author  |  Published: 13th Dec 2017  12:05 amUpdated: 13th Dec 2017  12:16 am
Anganwadi centres in Telangana

Mahabubnagar: Chennai-based Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion (CDFI) developed a system to monitor all functions of anganwadi centres and ensure accountability and transparency.

“We have developed a system where all contents of the 14 anganwadi registers combined will be available in a single application which will record attendance of workers and children, how much nutritional food has been dispensed every day, what is being taught every hour and health parameters of the beneficiaries,” Bagla told Telangana Today during his team’s visit to a centre in Mahabubnagar town on Tuesday.

The cloud-based Benefit Entitlement Tracking System (BETS) takes time-stamped attendance of teachers and children as the day starts. The application can randomly call-out any five children’s names any time during the day and ask the teacher to upload the live photograph of the child along with his/her/other’s fingerprint. This solves the problem of latecomers and absentees.

A back-end web portal which can be accessed by the ICDS Supervisor, CDPO or even District Collector, would give them minute-to-minute attendance which is accurate and cannot be manipulated the way it used to be done by some workers in the past.

Another benefit of the app is that it records what food is given to which child and how much. It also takes note of how many pregnant and lactating mothers have taken their nutrition on a particular day from the centre, including their names and photographs, which would be recorded in the database at the time when a pregnant is identified under an anganwadi centre’s jurisdiction.

The benefit of this functionality is twofold. One, it gives the supervisors exact picture of how much food is going out at any given point of time and the other is that the department would know for how much nutritional food the indent needs to be sent.

“Currently, supply of food to anganwadis is being done equally. While one anganwadi centre having just 10 children is getting more material, those centres with probably 40 children are running out of food by 22nd of the month. In the new application, there will be a provision to check inventory levels at every angnawadi centre under an ICDS supervisor’s jurisdiction. If the supervisor feels that excess stock from one centre could be used to fill the food gap in another anganwadi centre, it can be done. This will result in optimisation of food utilisation and constant inventory monitoring across the centres,” noted Abhishek Pradhan, representative of CDFI.
Presently, there are Food Consolidation Registers (FCR) and Nutrition Health Tracking System (NHTS), but according to CDFI representatives, Director of Women and Child Welfare has been insisting on integrating both into the BETS application so that everything could be done using a single application.

One of the unique functionality which the application offers, according to CDFI representatives, is that the application would inform a supervisor of a cluster immediately when a particular child or mother is malnourished. This will be done automatically by the system using the attendance, amount of food consumed and frequency at which the food has been consumed.

To help such malnourished children or women, CDFI is planning to provide supplementary nutrition to them as part of their corporate social responsibility. The institute is going to do this by identifying and tying-up with local suppliers and other corporate donors from where beneficiaries can directly approach to get their nutritional food.

“There are ways in the system to get various reports, graphs, charts and all the data which has been a herculean task for anganwadi workers to get all these years. Now, workers can dedicate their entire time on taking care of children and addressing the needs of pregnant women and lactating mothers,” Harini, Spokesperson for CDFI, told Telangana Today.

There is also functionality readily available with CDFI which they can integrate with BETS, which can take care of all payments to suppliers by the Women and Child Welfare Department online. They are hoping it would be included in their project in the near future.
Though the pilot project with limited and basic functionality will be rolled-out within two months in the 44 anganwadi centres in Mahabubnagar according to CDFI representatives, the larger goal of the institution is to extend it to all 1,883 centres across Mahabubnagar district and finally implement it in all 35,000 centres across Telangana.

Tablet PCs with the installed BETS application have been given to anganwadi teachers of 44 centres where the pilot project is being implemented. Teachers are able to operate the application within two weeks of training.

When asked why Telangana and why Mahabubnagar was chosen for the pilot project, Krishnan Dharmarajan, Founder and Executive Director of CDFI, said: “Telangana is the youngest State in India and there is a lot of potential here. District Collector Ronald Rose has been very supportive in our efforts. Mahabubnagar, being one of the most backward districts in the country, attracted our attention. Our idea is to use digitisation to make things easy for all stakeholders of ICDS in carrying out their everyday works, so that the beneficiaries can get the ‘real’ benefit of the scheme.”

How do we tackle egg lifters, ask anganwadis

Mahabubnagar: It has become a routine thing for the media to target anganwadi teachers and helpers accusing them of stealing eggs, dal, rice, milk and even balamrutham (nutritional supplement for children).

However, there is more to this than meets the eye. Many anganwadi teachers face immense pressure from local political leaders and even journalists who extort money and other food items from the centres.

Helpless and fearing repercussions, workers have no other choice but to heed to their demand and keep aside part of the food intended for children, pregnants and lactating mothers to give them to these extortionists.

“Through BETS application, which is being implemented by CDFI, we are hoping more transparency will prevail in the ICDS system. But, how do we address this ‘gudla dongalu’ problem? It would be great if a grievance functionality can be created in the system wherein we teachers can also enter our grievances and name individuals who harass us every day, so that our supervisors and even Collector could be able to know the everyday problems we face,” appealed an anganwadi teacher in Mahabubnagar, on condition of anonymity.