Bal Samvardhan: A state-anchored digital solution with a motto of leaving no children up to the age of 6 years behind

Amneet P Kumar

The need for effective monitoring and data-driven decision-making in child nutrition programs is rooted in the recognition that early childhood nutrition plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our nation. India, with its vast population, places a special emphasis on addressing malnutrition, particularly among children aged 0-6 years.

The Government of India launched the National Nutrition Mission or Poshan Abhiyaan in 2017 to transform the nutritional landscape for children (0-6 yrs), pregnant and lactating mothers and to address the malnutrition problem. To create a synergy for this program, adopt an integrated approach and run it as Jan-Andolan for mass implementation and make it a community-based event, Haryana, as a proactive state in the nation’s digital evolution, has spearheaded the adoption of the Bal Samwardhan to enhance the precision and efficiency of its child nutrition initiatives.

In the context of Haryana’s digital leap, Bal Samwardhan emerged as a beacon of progress, enabling the systematic collection and analysis of data related to child nutrition. This digital pivot ensures that decision-makers have real-time insights, facilitating a more proactive and targeted approach to tackling malnutrition. The primary objective of Bal Samwardhan is to improve the monitoring and nutritional support provided to children, lactating and pregnant women, ensuring that their well-being and development are effectively tracked.

In the recent past, the Government of Haryana introduced the concept of Family ID cum Parivar Pehchaan Patra (PPP), to ensure that government schemes and services effectively reach the intended beneficiaries within the population. PPP is authentic, verified, and reliable data of all families in Haryana. It identifies each and every family in Haryana and maintains basic data of the family, provided with the consent of the family, in a digital format i.e. an eight-digit Family-Id.

The Family ID is linked to the Birth, Death and Marriage records to ensure automatic updation of the family data. Through Family ID, the government is ensuring consistency and reliability and at the same time enabling the automatic selection of beneficiaries of various schemes, subsidies and pensions.

Bal-Samwardhan is leveraging the Family ID to ensure that the Poshan benefits reach all beneficiaries effectively and efficiently. The Bal-Samvardhan extends its utility far beyond simple data collection. It serves as a comprehensive platform encompassing data analysis, geo-mapping, status tagging, monitoring of attendance and Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP). By transitioning from traditional, paper-based record-keeping to a digital platform, Haryana aims to streamline its efforts, ensuring that interventions are not only timely but also precisely tailored to the needs of the communities they serve. The embedded features like status tagging ensure that no children are left behind. Together with the Poshan tracker, Bal Samwardhan bolsters a powerful tool where beneficiary verification and triangulation are successfully integrated. One of the pivotal aspects of the Bal Samwardhan is its adaptability to diverse contexts. Whether in rural or urban settings, the platform proves to be a versatile tool capable of accommodating the unique challenges and requirements of different regions within Haryana.

This adaptability is crucial for ensuring that no child is left behind in the pursuit of improved nutrition and health outcomes. At the core of the Bal-Samwardhan, effectiveness is its salient feature. A user-friendly interface facilitates easy data entry, ensuring that frontline workers can efficiently record critical information.

Robust analytics tools provide decision-makers with the means to perform comprehensive program evaluations, identifying areas of success and areas that may require targeted interventions.

The confidentiality and privacy of sensitive information of Bal- Samvardhan has been guaranteed since this is particularly crucial in the realm of healthcare and social development, where privacy concerns often act as a barrier to the adoption of digital solutions. The Bal Samwardhan commitment to data security fosters trust among stakeholders, encouraging greater participation and collaboration. Below is a graphical representation of the modules under Bal Samvardhan.

Recently, under Nutrition Campaign-2 Haryana Government has launched a special campaign to improve the health of malnutrition children in the State, especially in aspirational districts. In this regard, the Government has taken a major digital leap by distributing smartphones to the Anganwadi workers. Each smartphone will have the Bal Samvardhan app and Poshan Tracker app installed on it. This step is expected to revolutionize the way nutrition is delivered at the last mile. It will enable monitoring of children’s health and delivery of nutrition to lactating and pregnant mothers more effectively & transparently. The digital intervention and tracking of Poshan services through Bal Samwardhan and PPP will help achieve the Government’s vision of overcoming factors like underweight and stunted growth that impact the lives of children from birth till the age of 6 years by 2026. The steps taken by the Department of Women and Child, Government of Haryana have initiated the commitment of the Government of India to achieving the vision of Poshan 2.0 and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2: Zero Hunger) and malnutrition by 2030.

As we look towards the future, the Bal Samwardhan holds immense promise for sustained advancements in child nutrition. The platform’s scalability and adaptability provide a solid foundation for future enhancements. One potential avenue for development lies in the integration of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. By leveraging these cutting-edge technologies, Bal Samwardhan could further refine its data analysis capabilities, offering predictive models that anticipate emerging trends and potential challenges. This proactive approach would empower decision-makers to implement preventive measures, creating a more resilient and responsive child nutrition ecosystem. Furthermore, the Bal Samwardhan could serve as a template for other states and regions seeking to enhance their child nutrition programs. The success of Haryana’s digital leap sets a precedent for the transformative impact that technology can have on social welfare initiatives.

In conclusion, the Bal Samwardhan stands as a testament to the transformative power of technology in addressing critical social issues. Its integration into Haryana’s child nutrition programs showcases the potential of data-driven decision-making to effect tangible and positive change. As we embrace the digital era, the Bal Samwardhan serves not only as a tool for the present but as a beacon guiding us toward a future where no child is left behind in the pursuit of optimal health and well-being.

Views Expressed By: Amneet P Kumar, IAS, Secretary, Women and Child Development, Government of Haryana

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