The benefits of the Centre's Integrated Child Development Services are not reaching the most impoverished children in Bihar, a latest survey report has revealed.
The report of the rapid assessment survey -- conducted jointly by the Bihar Lok Adhikar Manch and Child Rights and You -- strongly emphasises the inadequacy of the ICDS service delivery system in the state, especially in the impoverished Dalit and Mahadalit societies.
"Even though Bihar is emerging as one of the fastest growing states in India, the benefit of this development does not seem to percolate to the marginalised children as it should have," the report stated.
The report looks into issues related to the quality and reach of ICDS services among children in the age group between six months and six years in Bihar.
The report indicates that the state needs a strong push to address the critical infra-structural and qualitative gaps in ICDS service delivery system.
It further said that only 43 percent of the total child population are covered by ICDS services and most of the ICDS centres are operating out of private buildings.
"Only 9 percent of the ICDS centres have toilets and 38 percent have safe drinking water facility. The number of children presence in the ICDS centre is not up to the mark, as on the day of visit only 67.38 percent children were present," said the report.
The report has drawn attention to the staggering number of children attended by a single ICDS centre. According to CRY, it has been experienced that the higher the average number of children attended to by any single ICDS centre, the lower is the quality of services delivered.
Statistics show that in Bihar, the average number of children attended by a single ICDS centre is 80, which is much higher than the national average of 55.
Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, senior manager of development support, CRY, said, "The need of the hour is to increase the number of ICDS units and appropriate budgetary allocation to reach out to all children."
He added, "The paramount focus should be on enhancing the quality of services with adequate infrastructure to meet the demands of health, nutrition and early childhood care and education, and being the primary duty bearer. The government cannot abdicate its responsibility."