By Hamid El Bashir
District Guna, Madhya Pradesh is experiencing positive changes in the lives of children of the district. When one travels to these villages one can easily notice that change. Since the time I joined UNICEF’s Madhya Pradesh office, I have traveled to Guna number of times and the change is reflected every time I’ve been there: be at the level of the community empowerment in the villages, as reflected by their participation in community process, or be at Gram Sabha. The enclosed graph reflects the impact the village planning process has had on some of the social indicators affecting children.
Dirouli, Tarawata, Nalkhera are the names of a few villages in the district which bear evidence to that change. This is a result of concerted efforts by a dedicated team in the district team led by District Collector Guna in partnership with UNICEF and non governmental organizations.
It all began in June 2005 when village planning process was rolled with aim to integrate and secure various developmental schemes, especially those concerning maternal and child health, sanitation, cleanliness and education and other services related to children and women, but ensures that the community initiates and owns the changes. It was based on using simple participatory processes engaging village communities, developing plans for children and women of the district, working with
Gram Sabhas and district’s administration.
Recently Guna district, with inspiration from UNICEF’s Country Representative Cecilio Adorna has taken a historic step by setting out eleven imperatives for ‘child friendly’ Panchayats which are -
1. All pregnancies are attended and brought to full term to ensure safe delivery protecting lives of the mother & the baby
2. All births are registered
3. All children aged 0-6 months are exclusively breastfed.
4. All children 0-6 years enrolled in Angawadi Centres and are accessing complete ICDS services
5. All children enjoy good health and no child is malnourished.
6. All Children attend school
7. All teachers, Angawadi workers, ANMs and other frontline workers attend to their duties and quality services ensured.
8. All people in the village use toilet and make the village free from open defecation and wisely
9. All women & young girls receive Iron Folic Acid tablets
10. All children get full opportunity to grow and develop full potential and no child marriage observed
11. All children and women are protected against any form of violence
These are based on the indicators for children and women, like malnutrition, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio which have shown improvement which needs to be at much faster rate. These imperatives are outcomes of village planning process by the district and will help Panchayat plan and monitor for survival and growth of women and children.
These eleven imperatives are but millions of circles on road to progress that our children in Madhya Pradesh and India at large will walk in their pursuit of the final destination of happiness and prosperity.