Under-five Mortality Rate (2015): 48 deaths per 1,000 live births (ranked 48 of 193). Source: UNICEF, SOWC Report, 2016.
Human Development Index (HDI) (2014): 0.609 (ranked 130 of 188). Source: UNDP, Human Development Report, 2015.
Number of enrolled children (FY15): 54,730
Number of participants (FY15): 1,569,758
ChildFund has its National Office based in Bangalore and a registered office in Delhi. In order to decentralize the monitoring of field and programme operations, ChildFund India categorized its operating areas into three zones and established zonal offices in Bangalore (for the south zone), Bhubaneswar (for the east zone) and in Delhi (for the north zone). ChildFund India works through 6 Area Offices (Udaipur in Rajasthan, Malkangiri and Kalahandi in Odisha, Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Deoghar and Daltanganj in Jharkhand) and Local Partners in 14 States and one Union Territory, covering a population of nearly 2 million in 61 districts and 1,831 villages.
ChildFund’s programme approach focuses on empowering and developing communities. As key stakeholders in designing and implementing programme interventions, ChildFund India follows a two-pronged strategy in working with communities. First, we focus on strengthening existing community structures formed under government programmes. These community structures include Village Health and Sanitation Committees, School Management Committees, Village Child Protection Committees, Village Education Committees, and Gram Panchayats (a village level elected local body). This approach helps in ensuring participation of communities in the decision-making process for the entitlements included in government programmes. Second, ChildFund India directly creates community institutions like child clubs, village development committees, and women self-help groups. These institutions work as agents of change, and they help deliver ChildFund programmes in India effectively. ChildFund India has also selected and trained community volunteers who assist in implementing initiatives in their areas. ChildFund India conducts regular activities to build the capacities of these community institutions and volunteers.
FY15 was significant for ChildFund India regarding its reach and results. ChildFund India assisted approximately 223,664 participants in its programme areas through sponsorship and grant-based programmes, including 14,509 children in Life Stage 1 (ages 0-5 years), 50,724 children in Life Stage 2 (ages 6-14 years), and 23,952 youth in Life Stage 3 (ages 15-24 years). The programme strategies were based on the needs and situation of each life stage and ensured the involvement of community members as well as other stakeholders.
Healthy and Secure Infants (Life Stage 1 – 0 to 5 years)
ChildFund India’s Life Stage 1 programmes aim at enhancing the survival, optimal growth and age appropriate developmental milestones of children from birth to the age of 5 years, through active involvement of caregivers, family members, and the community. The programmes address maternal and child health issues, nutrition, early childhood care, quality pre-school education and stimulation, to ensure the holistic development of children.
ChildFund India promotes access to existing government services to improve the health and nutrition status of pregnant and lactating mothers and children. In collaboration with government ministries, ChildFund India works to ensure that healthcare services such as antenatal care (ANC), institutional delivery, postnatal care (PNC) and primary immunization are available and accessible to the communities in remote locations within the programme areas.
Also, ChildFund India provides education through counselling sessions and workshops on the importance of maternal and child health issues, nutrition, parenting issues and child protection to parents and caregivers, giving special attention to mothers, Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilitators and volunteers. The programme focuses on awareness creation among parents and caregivers with an aim to improve their Knowledge, Attitude, Belief and Practice (KABP) in child care. Some of the FY15 results are below:
Maternal and Child Health
Improvement in the Nutrition Status of Children
Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme
Educated and Confident Children (Life Stage 2 – 6 to 14 years)
ChildFund India has been working towards improving the quality of education provided to the children living in marginalized communities in rural and tribal areas of India. Some of the critical issues affecting the quality of education are the inability of children to meet learning targets and acquire relevant skills, inadequate school infrastructure, low parent involvement in school management, and low school attendance. To address these issues, the programmes under Life Stage 2 (LS2) place emphasis on community mobilization, targeted interventions to ensure the provision of quality education, and improvements in school governance and infrastructure by strengthening School Management Committees (SMCs).
In FY15, ChildFund India programmes covered approximately 2,000 schools and ensured that children ages 6-14 years in our programme areas attended formal schools. Those who could not attend formal education received a non-formal education. More than 95% of the children in this age group were receiving formal or non-formal education in FY15. The programmes also address the overall development of children through various sessions and child club activities.
Major achievements during FY15:
Poor infrastructure, insufficiently trained teachers, unavailability of teachers in schools located in remote areas, were some of the glaring reasons behind the low levels of literacy among our enrolled children. The implementation of ChildFund India’s flagship education programmes – School Quality Improvement Programme (SQuIP) and Reading Improvement Programme (RIP) – provided a holistic intervention and worked towards improving the quality of education in the areas where we work. In FY15, ChildFund India further expanded its education programme portfolio through grant-based programmes like “Books, my Friends” campaign (under RIP), VIDYA, and Enhanced Education Quality Improvement Programme (EQuiP), along with other interventions. Some of these initiatives are described below:
Skilled and Involved Youth (Life Stage 3 – 15 to 24 years)
ChildFund India’s Life Stage 3 programmes focus on addressing issues related to youth, such as higher education, skills development, life skills education, employment, sexual and reproductive health, civic engagement, and leadership. We believe that this is a critical stage of development, during which youth are under tremendous pressure while they are undergoing physiological, mental and psychological changes. ChildFund India’s interventions help them explore this newness, secure their life through livelihood related support, and prepare them for responsive parenthood. By addressing issues related to livelihood and skill enhancement, ChildFund India aims to empower youth and help them to become responsible adults and citizens of the nation. During FY15, more than 5,000 youth completed skill enhancement training, out of which 672 were able to find viable employment.
Through its Youth Clubs and Youth Resource Centres, ChildFund India promotes involvement of young people, especially those who belong to the economically deprived and socially marginalized groups in society, in the betterment of society by building their capacity and skills. In FY15, Youth Clubs across the country made substantial progress in influencing their communities, schools and local government in promoting the spirit of volunteerism. Youth Clubs were successful in spreading awareness regarding social security options and employment opportunities for youth and other deprived community members where they live. The evaluation survey conducted in partner locations indicated that a significantly high number of young people are aware of and have accessed social security and employment opportunities available from the government, as compared to the youth in the comparison areas. Nearly 43% of young people in the intervention area reported attending workshops on career opportunities as compared to 21% in the comparison area. Large numbers of youth in intervention areas (78%) were aware of various career opportunities, versus 45% in the comparison area. Further, life skills training, using a train-the-trainer approach, was organised in April 2015 for all LS2 and LS3 Coordinators, to help them support and train their peers on dealing with life challenges and encourage their peers to become trainers and agents of change.
The UDAAN – Higher Education Scholarship for Girls project aims to support girls aged 16-24 years in pursuing secondary education by providing them counselling, career guidance, and financial assistance. The project is in operation in four areas – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha – offering scholarships to 250 girls, and helping 800 girls through various other activities. During FY15, the project successfully conducted two college fairs and two career guidance workshops, covering nearly 150 students and orienting them on different career opportunities, supporting them in choosing appropriate higher education options. ChildFund India has also identified more than 100 girls in Jhadol, Jabhua, Kalahandi and Daltonganj areas as scholarship recipients. The scholarship will cover tuition fees, books and supplies, accommodation and travel. Students who are not eligible for a scholarship are linked with other government aid programmes in the areas.
The ‘Prevention of Child Trafficking’ project is an initiative by ChildFund India which focuses on qualitative improvement of children endangered by human trafficking. The project is in partnership with ChildFund Deutschland and supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany (BMZ). The implementation covers 50 villages in the Udaipur district in the state of Rajasthan. The law enforcement agencies in one particular block in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat are also engaged in this project.
A study conducted by ChildFund India in 2008 revealed that every year over 10,000 children were trafficked across the border from the Udaipur District and its neighbouring areas to Gujarat to do cross-pollination work in BT cotton fields. The study surfaced the inhuman conditions under which children were transported and kept in Gujarat. Realizing the gravity of the situation, ChildFund India initiated the intervention with a multi-pronged strategy.
The project aims to reduce the vulnerability of local communities in the Udaipur district; capacitate and sensitize stakeholders dealing with the prevention of trafficking – Police, Lawyers, NGOs, Government, and the Administration, to institutionalize the initiatives they are undertaking; and provide alternative livelihood/income generation options to vulnerable families. It comprises of a number of strategies, including creating, training and empowering Community Vigilance Squads; promoting massive awareness campaigns; capacity building and sensitisation for Law enforcement agencies, including police and lawyers, and media professionals; developing skills for alternative livelihood options for youth; and actions for networking and learning sharing for stakeholders, in order to strengthen the state mechanisms/institutions and CSO initiatives towards prevention and protection of children from the heinous crime of human trafficking.
Another major issue related to child protection which is quite prevalent in India, especially in the areas where ChildFund works, is child marriage. This practice has been legally prohibited in India since 2006, but despite the laws it is still quite predominant in States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Haryana.
To fight against this practice all the programme offices of ChildFund India organised awareness campaigns in their operational areas. Having very high incidence of forced child marriages, ChildFund’s Area offices in Madhya Pradesh and in Jharkhand, in association with the Local Government, organised a multisector legal awareness campaign against child marriage, reaching seven districts. The awareness campaign focused on child marriage related issues such as legal provisions against child marriage, consequences of child marriage and benefits of getting girls married at the right age. It also included messages (conveyed in the regional languages) on prevention of child labour, the children’s right to play, inclusive education as a fundamental right up to the age of 14, and promoting girl’s education. The campaign vehicles moved across hundreds of communities successfully reaching lots of people with the message against child marriage, and also empowering the youth and child clubs established by ChildFund to report to appropriate authorities in case they come across such incidents.
In partnership one of its local partners ChildFund India is implementing a project in Mangalore, Karnataka, for the welfare and development of disabled children. ChildFund strives to provide inclusive education for the disabled children by providing free educational resources similar to other children within the mainstream education system. The school provides pre-school, primary school, and high school education within its premises. It also offers industrial training on various courses and needs-based vocational training to disabled youth, to help them become self-reliant.
Aligned with ChildFund’s Theory of Change, the project works across all three life stages. Under Life Stage 1, the project aims to provide a safe and caring environment with responsive caregivers, access to health and nutrition, and high-quality developmental stimulation to children. For this the school teaches parents about proper ways of parenting disabled children and provides support in the way of capacity building of caregivers, nutrition for infants and children, establishing child play groups, and conducting home visits. Under Life Stage 2 the school focuses on building positive relationships with the families and communities to create a supportive environment in homes and communities. Under Life Stage 3, the organisation focuses on youth employment, youth sexual and reproductive health, and developing youth as change agents. This is accomplished by training youth on life, vocational, coping, and decision-making skills, community-based protection mechanisms against sexual exploitation and abuse, and empowering them to develop self-reliance.
KITCHEN GARDEN – Home-grown nutritious food for children: Asha Kendra, one of ChildFund India’s partners, is situated in a hilly area where the majority of the families are agrarian. Due to lack of proper irrigation and scarcity of rain, the people who have dry land cultivation do not grow any vegetables. Hence, the women do not take much interest in cultivating vegetable plants, even if they have a small portion of land around their houses.
Over the past two years, to empower women in this area and enhance the nutritional status of children, the project has been encouraging women to cultivate vegetables on the land available around their dwellings. Asha Kendra provided education on the benefits of home-grown vegetables, alternative use of available resources, and how kitchen gardening can support their families economically and health wise. Asha Kendra also provided practical knowledge about how to erect fencing around the house, recycling of water for irrigation purposes, using different methods to plant trees, for example using plastic bags, buckets, broken pots, and mud pots. The women were also taught to make organic manure out of their kitchen waste. All of them were given vegetable seeds and provided with all the guidance and support required.
During FY15, all the women with children under five years of age were invited to bring and exhibit the vegetable they cultivated on their lands, to ensure the sustainability of this initiative. They proudly shared their experiences and presented the vegetables they grew, which included brinjal, beans, bitter guard, bottle guard, tomato, carrot, beetroot and radish. They said that this initiative had helped them reduce their cost of living, save money, and improve the health status of their children. With the benefit of this initiative, they are not only able to feed their children with fresh vegetables free from any pesticide, but they are also able to earn additional income to support their families.
This enterprise benefitted 150 families. “It is the first time we have done something like this, we were not even aware that we can make such good use of a small portion of land which is at our disposal and was left unutilized for so many years. This has become our way of life now,” shared one of the beneficiaries happily.
ChildFund’s Level 1 M&E system focuses on basic accountability – child verification, budget utilization, and participant counting. Given the actions to advance the frameworks for M&E Level 2 and Level 3, which emphasize tracking outcomes and impact, there is a growing realization by ChildFund India to devise a system that tracks results and monitors quality through specially designed Android tablets.
ChildFund India envisages a system which would track progress on key outcome indicators, capture communities’ perception of change and also assess the quality and functionality of the service providing mechanisms. The proposed system will not be a replacement of existing programme planning and monitoring frameworks and processes; rather the enhanced process will provide critical information for planning and monitoring in a more effective way. The system will ensure improved decision-making and track whether ChildFund interventions are being managed properly to bring changes at the community level.
Programmes — Coastal Areas
ChildFund India works closely with fishermen communities in the coastal districts of India to address prevalent issues in the communities. These concerns include malnutrition, prenatal and antenatal care of pregnant/lactating women, complete immunization of a child, general health and hygiene, and delayed child development. ChildFund India has implemented home-based parenting programmes for parents of children 0-3 years of age and centre-based programmes at ECD centres for children ages 4 to 6 years.
We also work with local schools for improving the quality of education through our unique programmes, which include: strengthening School Management Committees, conducting re-medial classes, working on reducing dropout cases, and forming child clubs for children between the ages of 6 to 14 years to promote child rights and protection in schools and at the community level. To support the youth (ages 15 to 24 years) in these areas, ChildFund India conducts various activities, including facilitating access to higher education; providing skill development training or job opportunities to ensure employability of youth; and establishing youth clubs; as well as other youth-led programmes for community development.
Programmes — Agriculture
A large portion of India’s rural population depends on Agriculture and its allied sectors, making it the largest livelihood provider in the country. Indian farmers majorly grow crops such as paddy or rice, wheat, pulses, vegetables and cash crops. The sector contributes significantly to the growth of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For holistic rural development, sustainable agriculture regarding food security, rural employment and environmentally suitable technologies like soil conservation, natural resource management, and environmental protection, play a critical role.
ChildFund India addresses some of the core problems related to unemployment, distressed migration and livelihood, conducting activities to increase productivity of agricultural products and support youth leadership. A number of initiatives were implemented in the programme areas around training, awareness raising and access to resources. These efforts include: training for youth and farmers on different government programmes; skill development for youth to enable entry into the agricultural workforce; establishing youth clubs; and organising Farmers’ Associations, Self-Help Groups, and linkages with the government and other technical institutions for easy access to credit facilities and technical know-how to improve productivity and income.
Some of the Youth Clubs and Farmers’ Associations have been managing “grain banks” for food security and developing a mechanism for meeting the seed requirements at the community level. Training on the improved farming practices has empowered farmers and youth to interact with the grassroots level agriculture officers and experts at agricultural research institutions and nearby “Krishi Vigyan Kendras” established by the Government.
Some of the successful examples in FY15 include piloting the System of Rice Intensification and Systematic Wheat Intensification in selected locations and training and supporting youth in intensive vegetable cultivation and other non-farm employable skills. These efforts have resulted in higher awareness among the youth for self-employment and reducing seasonal migration to the urban areas.
To recognize, empower and encourage the Youth Clubs, ChildFund India introduced the Youth Innovation Awards in April 2015. Its objective is to acknowledge the best practices and efforts of Youth Clubs and to reward the remarkable initiatives taken by Area Offices as well as Partner NGOs in empowering youth in their areas towards their sustainable development. This effort motivated our Areas/partner organisations to demonstrate innovation and leadership in their respective Youth Clubs, Youth Federations, and all activities/programmes under Life Stage 3 (Skilled and Involved Youth).
ChildFund India received 23 nominations from Youth Clubs across its operational areas, for the following five categories: Youth initiatives around civic engagement; Efforts towards ensuring trans-parent and accountable governance; Youth participation and representation in various forums; Youth volunteerism on developmental issues; and Youth addressing social issues.
The panellists selected the following three Best Youth Submissions: 1st Prize – GCK Youth Advocacy Forum (awarded Rs. 50,000/$753 USD); 2nd Prize – Sharda Vidhya Youth Club (awarded Rs.35,000/$527 USD); and 3rd Prize – Raising Youth Group, Mamandur (awarded Rs. 25,000/$376 USD). First prize winner GCK Youth Advocacy Forum had facilitated the formation of 20 Youth Clubs under the Family Helper Project, supported by ChildFund India in its 20 project villages. The Youth Clubs organise regular monthly meetings to discuss issues concerning them and their community. The 20 Youth Clubs together constituted a federation called GCK Youth Advocacy Forum and its coordinating body includes two members from each Youth Club. The GCK Youth Advocacy Forum meets every quarter to discuss and undertake initiatives on youth related issues.
During one of the quarterly meetings, a few members raised the issue of early marriage. Three of the Federation members who themselves were the victims of child marriage, shared their experiences – the consequences of early marriage, its negative impact on their studies and bearing the pressure of family responsibilities from a very young age. As a result, GCK Youth Advocacy Forum decided to intervene, since the population of the project area primarily consists of people belonging to Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and Other Backward Castes. Most of them are farmers with incomes below the poverty line, who try to get all of their daughters married at the same time irrespective of their ages, to avoid the recurring burden of marriage expenses. With the consistent efforts of youth members, over the last few years, the number of early marriages has reduced to a large extent in their area. But since the tradition still exists, the effort by the youth members still continues.
One of the biggest challenges India faces is the quality of formal education. In India, several efforts have been undertaken through the Right to Education (RTE) to improve the quality of state-run or government school education. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or RTE was enacted by the Government of India on 4 August 2009 and describes the importance of free and compulsory education for 6-14 year-old children in India.
However, various assessment reports indicate that there are many challenges that need to be addressed to enhance the quality of education at all levels to achieve the Education for All (EFA) goals, especially for millions in rural and backward regions of our India, who are deprived of opportunities. The state-wide 2014 Annual Survey of Education Report findings show that there have only been marginal improvements in reading levels in the last few years. Madhya Pradesh is registered to have the lowest learning level in the country, ac-cording to the 2014 report.
Child marriage has been a serious issue in India for many decades, and in spite of various efforts by the government and NGOs the country has not been able to find a long lasting solution to this grave problem. According to recent reports, 47% of girls in India are married before the age of 18. The rates of child marriage vary between states, and are as high as 69% and 65% in Bihar and Rajasthan, respectively.
Child Trafficking has become another serious threat to India’s children. Studies have revealed the majority of children have been taken from rural villages to some of the well-developed cities. An estimated 135,000 children are being trafficked every year for domestic work, as labourers in the cotton industry, and a considerable percentage of girls as sex workers. India has become a source country as well as the destination for child trafficking. Some reports have revealed thousands of girls from Bangladesh and Nepal are now in India engaged in sex work.
In addition to the challenges related to child poverty in India, ChildFund faced some programmatic challenges as well, such as some struggle to ensure consistency of the programme’s effectiveness all over its intervention areas and the concern for staff security in some of its operational areas.
Sudam – A Shining Star: Story of a Sponsored Child
Sponsorship is one of the key components of ChildFund’s programme interventions. Sudam, a 23-year-old young man, is an example of how ChildFund has been able to transform lives through sponsorships. Today, he has not only made his parents proud but has also done something which no one from his community was able to achieve before.
Sudam comes from a very poor family. His father is a daily wage labourer and his mother is a homemaker. Sudam has always been a bright student, wanting to continue his studies but it was difficult for his parents to support his education due to the financial burden. In 2003, one of ChildFund India’s local partners enrolled Sudam in its sponsorship programme. With the financial assistance from his sponsor, the family was able to meet Sudam’s education expenses. With the help of ChildFund India’s interventions, Sudam became an active participant in all of ChildFund’s programme activities, especially in the Children and Youth club activities.
Responding to Sudam’s interest in pursuing higher education, ChildFund India assisted him in pursuing a computer certificate course after he finished his secondary education. He also completed a vocational course in stenography at the Government Industrial Training Institute.
Today, Sudam works as a Stenographer cum Clerk at a Government Sales Tax Office. He is the first one from his community to get a Government job, which is a big deal. He is able to support his family, help his elder brother with his tailoring work and his younger brother with his education. Currently, along with his job, he is also pursuing graduation. “I like working here, and I want to get promoted to an officer position in this same Government office, which I’m sure I will. I’m really grateful that ChildFund gave me this opportunity to grow.”
Success Story: ChildFund’s intervention saved the life of one more under-nourished child
During one of her home visits in the Chhedlahi village ChildFund India’s Community Mobilizer, Muktirani, noticed a woman holding a severely malnourished child sitting beside the road. Muktirani approached her and inquired about her family and the child’s condition.
Urmila, the woman holding the child, shared about her family, consisting of herself, her husband and her three children. Her oldest child, Babita, is around five years old and doesn’t go to school; her second child, Rupesh, is just a couple of years old; and the one she is holding is her youngest child who is just a couple of months old. When asking Urmila about her child, she shared that her child is ill but since her husband is a daily wage labour they won’t be able to afford a doctor. She shared that just after Rupesh, her second child, she gave birth to a son, but since he had many complications, he died within a couple of days. They were having a tough time when Rupesh was born. Urmila had to ask her brother to support them financially so that she could be admitted to a Government hospital, which is 25 km (almost 16 miles) away from their village, for institutional delivery. Rupesh weighed just 2.2 kg (4.9 lbs.) when he was born, which is again below the normal range for a new-born.
Listening to Urmila’s story, Muktirani realized that the family needed immediate intervention by ChildFund since they were not aware of any government health, education or livelihood related programmes and facilities which they could access. Muktirani invited Urmila to take part in National Nutrition week celebration so that she could receive information about the importance of nutrition for the development of a child and the details on services provided by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). When the NRC learned about the condition of Urmila’s baby, they suggested she consult a doctor immediately. The very next day the child was taken to the area’s Primary Healthcare Centre, where the doctor referred the child to the District Hospital. At the hospital, the child received proper treatment from a paediatrician, and since the family was unable to pay for the expenses, ChildFund’s project helped them with emergency health referral support.
After a few months, when ChildFund’s Life Stage 1 Coordinator visited the family, he was glad to see the baby healthier than before. The child’s weight had increased from 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) to 6 kg (13 lbs.). On 14th November 2014, the project had organised a ‘Healthy Baby Show’ in which the child participated, and he was recognized as the healthiest child. ChildFund also enrolled Babita, the oldest child, in its sponsorship programme to provide support for her development. That way ChildFund is supporting the family in their development.