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Consultant: Devyani Chaturvedi 

Data theme: Entitlements, Health and Nutrition 

Objective: Ensuring regular supply of sanitary napkins and IFAs in Anganwadi Centers (AWCs), and making Village Health and Nutrition Days (VHNDs) adolescent friendly, with a specific focus on ensuring availability of adolescent specific services like anemia screening, counseling, distribution of commodities and referrals.

Key Outcomes: This strategic intervention organized several meetings and workshops with the community, specifically local adolescents. 100 adolescent girls from 10 villages of Nawabganj block of Bahraich district were selected and trained to be ‘Local Champions’. 

The girls were trained in digital advocacy, to raise their issues through various established helplines and portals like the Chief Minister Helpline-1076, Childline-1098, IGRS Portal, Jan Sunvayi application, CUG Numbers of Govt. Officials and writing applications to Govt. Officials etc. The adolescents made applications through the portals, and learnt how to track the status and follow up on the same.

The intervention also facilitated meetings between the Champions and district level officials like the District Magistrate, Chief Medical Officer, District Probation Officer, District Project Officer-ICDS which enabled them to raise their issues recommendations at District Health Society meetings as well. 

Process: The meetings organised with adolescent girls across the 10 villages in Nawabganj block introduced them to the UDAYA data and insights. Insights on themes like health and nutrition were used to provide information about the prevalence of malnutrition and anaemia, and the importance of programs like VHNDs which have a specific focus on adolescent health. Four batches of 25 girls each participated in these initial meetings.

Later meetings also included adolescent boys, and they discussed issues like anaemia in their own community, or whether anaemia screenings were done regularly, or availability of IFA tablets. They drafted a status report and suggested recommendations in a letter addressed to block and district level officials. The adolescents were also trained in using digital tools to forward their demands for better service delivery. They selected 10 ‘girl champions’ between the ages of 12-20 to represent them.

The Champions raised the issue of irregular supply of IFA tablets and sanitary napkins at the AWCs with block and district level officials, including the District Magistrate, Chief Medical Officer, District Probation Officer, District Project Officer-ICDS. They also used existing channels like the Chief Minister Helpline-1076, Childline-1098, Integrated Grievance Redressal System (IGRS) Portal, the Jan Sunvai application and Closed User Group (CUG) Numbers of government officials. They also sent written applications to officials and tracked the status of the online applications made. The issues and recommendations suggested by the adolescents were also raised at the District Health Society (DHS) meeting. Verbal commitments have been issued by the DHS to ensure regular supply of sanitary napkins at AWCs across the block. The supply of IFA tablets has already improved. Officials have also made verbal commitments to improve and ensure more adolescent friendly health services at VHNDs in the block.

One of the biggest challenges has been to introduce topics like menstrual health and hygiene to the wider community. While the initial meetings only invited adolescent girls, the boys were included in subsequent meetings. Several months, and several sessions later, now the girls are freely sharing their experiences, and the boys are taking initiative in the adolescent delegations.