An historic tripartite Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the District of Mahbubnagar, Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion (CDFI) and Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad to launch and roll out a digital inclusion pilot – Benefit Entitlement Tracking Solution (BETS) – in 45 anganwadi centres across Mahbubnagar District.
BETS is a CDFI supported digital platform that improves transparency, effectiveness and productivity through streamlined benefit delivery to its intended beneficiaries. Present on the dais during the signing were Mr. Ronald Rose, IAS, District Collector of Mahbubnagar; Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Head of Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad and Mr. Krishnan Dharmarajan, Executive Director, Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion.
Telangana’s largest district by area, Mahbubnagar is considered one of the 250 most backward districts in the country. With a population of 14,85,567 (2011 census data), this region records the highest rural population (89%) in the state; a total number of 306,316 households and is also one of nine Telangana districts to currently receive funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).
Anganwadi centres (AWC’s) were established in partnership with UNICEF in 1975 as part of the Indian national government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). This unique programme employs and trains community women to deliver a range of services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups as well as pre-school non-formal education. This framework was initiated to tackle malnutrition in young children and mothers; reduce infant and maternal mortality rate; educate mothers about nutrition and health and improve feeding practices. Telangana is now home to approximately 35,000 AWC’s catering to the reported needs of nearly 19 lakh, 5 lakh infants and over 21 lakh pregnant women annually (2015 data).
A study of 15 Mahbubnagar anganwadis was conducted in early September by CDFI and Aga Khan Academy at the request of their District Collector, Ronald Rose IAS, who aims to modernize and digitize services delivered to various beneficiaries served by the anganwadis. The pilot baseline and field study was conducted through observation, interviews and review of current record management processes. Most challenges identified were related to areas of governance, service delivery and inventory management. No real-time monitoring of the anganwadis has been possible until now. Discrepancies were noted in food quantities prepared which often contributed to meal shortages in the centres or undue wastage. Anganwadi workers spend more time record keeping than effectively managing their centres and helping serve women and children. 14 different registers being maintained at every AWC could lead to duplication of information.
BETS (Benefit Entitlement Tracking Solution) is a citizen-centric, game-changing digital innovation that intends to create a transformational paradigm shift in service delivery mechanisms. Due to the pioneering initiative of Mr Ronald Rose IAS, this pilot will roll-out BETS in 45 anganwadi centres in Mahbubnagar. This pilot will be launched post the signing of the MoU with induction training for AWC workers and helpers. This first digital inclusion pilot will address the transformational vision that Telangana state and district administration and aim to:
Anganwadis can, through the adoption and utilisation of BETS, become empowered and modernised with appropriate digital tools to realize their full design potential and become the central ‘hub’ of each village social network.
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