Quarterly Bulletin

Bal Raksha Bharat

December 2020 | ISSUE-VI


Understanding Child Rights

Pushing further with Innovations

Innovations, adaptations and digital transformation have long been touted as something that NGOs needed to do, but someday. The COVID-19 pandemic forced this conversation to the here and now. With the needs and risks increasing manifold and resources growing dry, innovations and adaptations rose as the need of the hour.

Save the Children has always been an advocate of innovations to uphold the interest of children. With innovation champions driving novel and disruptive approaches for the best interest of children within each function, the COVID-19 crisis turned ideas into reality.

Gulmohar — a digital home based early learning module

The Gulmohar framework developed by Save the Children recognises the need for intervention of caregivers to ensure early learning at home, more so during prolonged closure of Anganwadi centres during pandemic. Amid long school closures and the impacts of magnified digital divide, the Gulmohar module has been designed for parents and caregivers to enable them to support early learning for children at home with the use of household items through play based methods.

This module ensures that the critical foundational years are not lost as a result of the unprecedented crisis. The module also includes WhatsApp audio visuals for socio-emotional wellbeing, physical development, emergent literacy and math skills.

The module was launched at the national level on 22 September 2020 and has also been launched at regional levels. Save the Children has collaborated with Women and Child Development department in Karnataka to scale up the reach of the module.

Cost of Diet software

The Cost of the Diet (CotD) method and software have been developed by Save the Children to identify economic constraints in accessing nutritious food items in rural India and address the same by promoting traditional nutritional practices.

CotD estimates the minimum amount of money a typical household would need to purchase their recommended intake of energy, protein, fat and micronutrients. The software selects a combination of food items based on its availability in the local markets, can be home grown at home and available in the natural environment.

This enables a family and individual to meet their nutrient requirements at affordable costs by suggesting cheaper alternatives. Nutrient requirements are calculated as per recommendation by the World Health Orgnisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2004).

Save the Children has conducted the Cost of Diet Study’ in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand with the use of the software to promote food security, nutrition and health among the community by creating evidences on availability, price and nutrient content of food items. Save the Children had signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) with NITI Aayog in 2019 to contribute to the ‘aspirational districts’ in Jharkhand to have improved indicators on health and nutrition, West Singhbhum being one of them.

Aligned with the government of India’s objectives of improving the nutritional status among children up to six years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the Poshan Maah Abiyan campaign was launched by Save the Children across the intervention states in the month of September. This campaign culminated with the national launch of the Cost of Diet Study on 29 September on a virtual event with representation from UNICEF, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad and Apnalaya, a non-profit based in Maharashtra, to highlight the sustainable ways to ensure food and nutrition security through local models and solutions for better access and affordability.

Innovative partnerships

As the world responded to the threats of COVID-19 as a health emergency, non-profits are tasked with providing services for low‐income, vulnerable, and disadvantaged communities. Save the Children serving the most marginalised children and their families experienced dramatic increase in community needs while striving to maintain the safety and health of staff and volunteers. A need for intense need to ensure food security, precautionary gears like PPE kits, masks, sanitisers and livelihood led to innovative partnerships in the urban and peri urban areas of intervention.

Save the Children collaborated with Pune auto association in Pune, Maharashtra for awareness campaign, distribution of food and hygiene kits to the urban slum communities and female auto drivers in the city. Sessions were also conducted with the auto drivers on how to ensure social distancing, sanitise their vehicles, e-payment methods and also how to maintain mental wellbeing.

Similar partnerships were also consolidated in Hyderabad to ensure safe ferry of pregnant women to health facilities during emergency amid lockdown. Save the Children also partnered with e-rickshaws in North east Delhi for similar awareness and distribution drives. This partnership not only ensured safety of the staff members at distribution, but also ensured easy and faster mobility and livelihood opportunities to the auto drivers who lost their livelihood as public transport ceased to commute.

Last mile connectivity with no internet

No matter how much the pandemic has pushed our dependency of digital means, internet and connectivity is still a luxury in many parts of rural India. Dungarpur, a tribal district in Rajasthan, is one such case.

Last mile connectivity has always been a challenge due to no internet availability. Save the Children with support from Alcatel and Nokia has enabled interconnectivity among 30 schools, seven gram panchayats and three key line departments with the use of radio frequency and the available infrastructure. This network not only helps to connect with each other but has also been largely used during the pandemic for extending all support services along with health, education, skill building and social protection messages.

This network has utilised the ICT infrastructure available at Government schools, panchayat level service centres which were converted into E-service centres. Five high-altitude towers, 35 poles, high definition cameras and smart devices were also set up at each location.