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FounderGovernment of India
TypeGovernmental organization
Legal statusGovernmental organization
PurposeCombat hunger and malnutrition of children.
AffiliationsGovernment of India
Anganwadi worker distributing dresses to children
Anganwadi worker distributing dresses to children
Anganwadi Kendra Kulei
Anganwadi Centre, Odisha, 2018

An Anganwadi (Hindi pronunciation: [ãːɡɐnɐʋaːɖiː]) is a type of rural child care centre in India. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi in Hindi means "courtyard shelter" in English.

Nirappam kunnu Anganwadi Centre, Cheruvannur Grama Panchayat, Kozhikode district, Kerala
Children and worker at Nirappam kunnu Anganwadi Centre
Children at Nirappam kunnu Anganwadi Centre
Karunaram Anganwadi Centre, Nanminda Grama Panchayat, Kozhikode district, Kerala
Karunaram Anganwadi - A day starts with prayer
Birthday celebration at Karunaram Anganwadi
Midday meals on a special day, at Karunaram Anganwadi

A typical Anganwadi center provides basic health care in a village. It is a part of the Indian public health care system. Basic health care activities include contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as pre-school activities.[1] The centres may be used as depots for oral rehydration salts, basic medicines and contraceptives. As of 31 January 2013, as many as 13.3 lakh (a lakh is 100,000) Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centres (AWCs/mini-AWCs) are operational out of 13.7 lakh sanctioned AWCs/mini-AWCs. These centres provide supplementary nutrition, non-formal pre-school education, nutrition, and health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services of which the last three are provided in convergence with public health systems.[2]

While as of latest 31 March 2021, 13.87 lakh Anganwadi and mini-Anganwadi centres (AWCs/mini-AWCs) are operational out of 13.99 lakh sanctioned AWCs|AWC/mini-AWCs with the following categorization in the quarterly report :

  1. State/UT wise details of growth monitoring in Anganwadi Centers - Total children:-89.1+ lakh
  2. Total No. of AWCs/Mini-AWCs with Drinking water facility:-11.9+ lakh
  3. Total No. of AWCs/Mini-AWCs with toilet facility:-10+ lakh
  4. Other miscellaneous on rented/govt. buildings, nutritional coverage, pre-school education, vacant/in-position/sanctioned posts of AWWs/AWHs/CDPOs/Supervisors, etc.[3]


Despite decades of impressive growth, India has an acute shortage of doctors.[4] The doctor population ratio in 2019-20 was 1:1456; against the WHO recommended level of 1:1000.[5] Through the Anganwadi system, the country is trying to meet its goal of providing affordable and accessible healthcare to local populations.

Anganwadi workers have the advantage over the physicians living in the same rural area, which gives them insight into the state of health in the locality and assists in identifying the cause of problems and in countering them. They also have better social skills and can therefore more easily interact with the local people.[citation needed] As locals, they know and are comfortable with the local language and ways, are acquainted with the people, and are trusted.[6]

Challenges and solutions[edit]

Public policy discussions have taken place over whether to make Anganwadis universally available to all eligible children and mothers who want their children there. This would require significant increases in budgetary allocation and a rise in the number of Anganwadis to over 16 lakh.

The officers and their helpers who staff Anganwadis are typically women from poor families. The workers do not have permanent jobs with comprehensive retirement benefits like other government staff. Worker protests (by the All India Anganwadi Workers Federation) and public debates on this topic are ongoing. There are periodic reports of corruption and crimes against women in some Anganwadi centers.[7][8] There are legal and societal issues when Anganwadi-serviced children fall sick or die.[9]

In announcing the 2022 budget, then Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that salaries would be increased for Anganwadi workers to ₹20,105 per month and for helpers to ₹10,000 per month.[10] But with minuscule increment in the overall umbrella budget of just 0.7%. It has been allocated ₹20,263 crore for the next fiscal, as compared to last year’s allocation of ₹20,105 crore. As compared to revised estimate of ₹199999.55 crore there is a 1.3% increase.[11]

In March 2008 there was debate about whether packaged foods (such as biscuits) should become part of the food served. Detractors, including Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, argued against it, saying that it will become the only food consumed by the children. Options for increasing partnerships with the private sector are continuing.

In a major initiative, the work of Anganwadis is being digitized, starting with the 27 most economically disadvantaged districts in Uttar Pradesh: Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. In March 2021, Anganwadis' workers were provided with a smartphone app to record data that will be integrated with the health ministry, which is involved in carrying out immunization, health check-ups, and nutrition education under Integrated Child Development Services. They were informed that failure to upload digitally-entered records could result in salary and food suspension. Difficulties emerged with this smartphone app's reportedly being hard to use, being written in only English, and demanding more memory than cheap smartphones have. Anganwadi employees, mostly women who earn less than $150 a month, if they even have smartphones, experienced repeated crashes of this app or found that they do not understand enough English to use it. Many lack phone reception and electricity in their villages and ask why meticulously written ledgers, used for years, no longer suffice.[12]

In order to ensure growth monitoring of children and home visits, an incentive of Rs. 500 and Rs. 250 is provided per month to Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs).[13]

Integration with other official schemes[edit]

The Integrated Child Development Services scheme did not have provision for the construction of AWC buildings as this was envisaged to be provided by the community except for the North Eastern States. For them, financial support was provided for construction of AWC buildings since 2001-02 at a unit cost of ₹175,000.

As part of the strengthening and restructuring the ICDS scheme, the government approved a provision of construction of 200,000 Anganwadi centre buildings at a cost of ₹450,000 per unit during XII Plan period in a phased manner with a cost-sharing ratio of 75:25 between centre and states (other than the NER, where it will be at 90:10).

Further, construction of AWC has been notified as a permissible activity under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA). The construction of AWC buildings can be taken up in convergence with MNREGA.[14]

Planned renaming of few schemes under new umbrella term i.e. Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 includes anganwadi services, Poshan Abhiyan, scheme for adolescent girls, and national creche scheme.[15]

International efforts[edit]

UNICEF and the UN Millennium Development Goals of reducing infant mortality and improving maternal care are the impetus for increasing focus on the Anganwadis.[16] Workers and helpers are expected to be trained per WHO standards.[17][18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Population Policy 2000 Archived 7 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, National Commission on Population website. Accessed 13 February 2008
  2. ^ "Anganwadi Centres".
  3. ^ "ICDS Entitlements". Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  4. ^ Amy Kazmin. "Doctors are scapegoats for India's failing health system". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  5. ^ Deo, Madhav (2013). "Doctor population ratio for India - the reality". Indian Journal of Medical Research. 137 (4): 632–5. PMC 3724242. PMID 23703329.
  6. ^ "The Anganwadi Workers of India". Health Opine. 3 March 2011. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  7. ^ "2 held, 6 booked for graft in Rs 18 crore anganwadi tender". The Times of India. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Anganwadi worker kidnapped, gang-raped in Odisha; 3 detained". Odisha Sun Times. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Tragedy strikes anganwadi again". The Times of India. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  10. ^ Chandra, Jagriti (1 February 2022). "Union Budget 2022 | Two lakh anganwadis to be upgraded". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  11. ^ Chandra, Jagriti (1 February 2022). "Union Budget 2022 | Two lakh anganwadis to be upgraded". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  12. ^ "India's high-tech governance risks leaving behind its poorest citizens" (web and print). The Economist. paragraphs 2 & 3. 16 October 2021. p. 33. Retrieved 19 October 2021. In March its workers, nearly all women paid less than $150 a month, were instructed to use a new, government-supplied smartphone app. Failure to up-load classroom data could result in suspension of wages and of food supplies, threatening a vital source of nutrition for India's poorest children. ¶ The workers say the app is hard to use. It is only in English, which most do not understand, and takes up so much memory it crashes their cheap smartphones. Many do not even have a phone, or electricity or mobile reception in their villages. What was wrong with the old written ledgers they carefully kept for years, they ask? The change [sic] is that the government now wants more control and surveillance.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  13. ^ "ICDS Entitlements". Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Anganwadi Centres". Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  15. ^ Chandra, Jagriti (1 February 2022). "Union Budget 2022 | Two lakh anganwadis to be upgraded". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Early Childhood Development in India". UNICEF. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  17. ^ de Onis, Mercedes; Garza, Cutberto; Victora, Cesar G.; Onyango, Adelheid W.; Frongillo, Edward A.; Martines, Jose (January 2004). "The who Multicentre Growth Reference Study: Planning, Study Design, and Methodology". Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 25 (1_suppl_1): S15–S26. doi:10.1177/15648265040251S104. ISSN 0379-5721. PMID 15069917. S2CID 208063814.
  18. ^ "The WHO Child Growth Standards". Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  19. ^ Onyango, Adelheid W; Borghi, Elaine; de Onis, Mercedes; Frongillo, Edward A; Victora, Cesar G; Dewey, Kathryn G; Lartey, Anna; Bhandari, Nita; Baerug, Anne; Garza, Cutberto; for the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study Group (1 December 2015). "Successive 1-Month Weight Increments in Infancy Can Be Used to Screen for Faltering Linear Growth". The Journal of Nutrition. 145 (12): 2725–2731. doi:10.3945/jn.115.211896. ISSN 0022-3166. PMID 26468489.

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