Impact assessment of an IT intervention in a supplementary nutrition programme

The Government of India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme provides timely care and holistic development of children (below six years of age), pregnant women and lactating mothers, through a package of services which include provision of:

Supplementary Nutrition (Hot meals and Take Home Rations)
Health check-up and monitoring, and
Nutrition and health education / counselling

These services are traditionally delivered through a well-knit network of sanctioned Anganwadi centres (AWC), with the key objective of providing nutritious food to children on a regular basis. More recently, corporate social responsibility (CSR) partnerships between corporate sponsors, government and implementation agencies have been playing a big role in achieving this objective. Delivery of nutrition to ICDS beneficiaries is facilitated by implementation agencies, corporate sponsors and NGOs.

These entities record data and monitor day-to-day interaction with the beneficiaries’ starting from authentication, enrolment leading up to delivery of prescribed services. In the absence of a viable technology solution the entire chain is managed through manual input. Current manual tracking system which tracks the beneficiaries receiving nutritious food is prone to accuracy issues. Attendance monitoring by AWW and its authenticity cannot be verified. Maintenance of manual records for these day-to-day activities is both tedious and less effective. At the same time, process for accounting benefits delivery is manual and lengthy. Digitizing these processes and improving their operational efficiency by adding transparency is necessary in order to achieve the objectives of ICDS programme.

An IT intervention called “Benefits Entitlement & Tracking System (BETS)”, a payment technology platform helps digitize the authentication/verification process and facilitates seamlessly managed payments based on the eligibility rules, is now being deployed in one of these CSR-funded supplementary nutrition programmes. BETS is designed to help the stakeholders involved in delivery of nutrition services by digitizing the daily activities including enrolment, authentication, monitoring of benefits, providing data analysis reports, reconciliation and settlement of accounts.

The Digital Innovation Lab is conducting a CDFI-funded study to assess the impact of the BETS intervention on targeted users, in this case Anganwadi Workers & Helpers, and identify the potential of the BETS platform in achieving the overall objectives of ICDS programme in terms of improvements in processes and service delivery.