In normal times, India’s million plus army of Anganwadi workers leads the country’s war against undernutrition.
Today, these women have joined another battle - the battle against COVID-19.
They play a crucial role in promoting child growth and development
There are almost 28 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers working under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme launched by the Central government in 1975
While their usual duty is to improve the nutrition of women and children across rural India...
...they are now going door to door, recording people’s travel history, noting flu symptoms and, where needed, even helping trace contacts
But, the pandemic also means long work hours and risk for them
Many Anganwadi workers have tested positive for the coronavirus underscoring the risk that the frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic face
They flagged the problems they are facing in the discharge of their duties
"When we go to do surveys, people ask as to why are you here?” - Seema Kumari, Anganwadi Worker from Saharsa-Bihar area
"We explain them that this survey is for coronavirus"
In many areas, they have complained that no protective gear has been provided to them even while surveying COVID-19 hotspot areas
“We do face challenges but we are determined to help our community and people”