Children in Andhra Pradesh
The full potential of the social capital generated by the state has not been harnessed to impact the key social development indicators for children.
Andhra Pradesh is situated in the south-east of India and is the seventh-largest state. The north-western portion of Andhra Pradesh was separated to form the new state of Telangana on 2 June 2014, and Hyderabad remains the acting capital of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states for a period of ten years. Andhra Pradesh has a coastline of 974 km – the second-longest coastline among the states of India, after Gujarat.
A few of the key indicators of the state: As per Sample Registration System 2015, the under-five mortality rate stands at 39 per 1000 live births while neonatal mortality rate stands at 24 per 1000. The maternal mortality ratio is 92 per 100,000 live births (Source: SRS 2011-2013). Based on the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4, 17.2 per cent of children under the age of five years are wasted and 4.5 per cent of children under age five are severely wasted. The rural sanitation coverage stands at 57 per cent (Source: Swachh Bharat Mission MIS). As per NFHS 4, 32.7 per cent women aged 20-24 years are married before the legal age of 18 years, which is higher than the national average. The prevalence of marriage among adolescent girls aged 15-19 years is higher among Scheduled Tribes than other communities.
In the last decade, significant achievements have been made in education, primary enrolment is near universal, participation in upper primary schools has increased and there are improvements in learning levels. At the same time, learning outcomes at Grade 5 and Grade 8 remain low. Andhra Pradesh, post bifurcation, is working towards setting up model schools, especially for girls despite a severe shortage of qualified personnel. The Annual Status of Education Report 2016 findings show that after 10 years, reading and arithmetic scores have improved in public-funded schools in the early grades.
The biggest differences between studying in a private school and a government school has been the poor learning outcome of students.
The state has created a platform for women’s economic participation through self-help groups and functions in both rural and urban areas. The state has taken some positive steps with the articulation of Vision Swarnandhra 2029 to drive social and economic policies and by notifying a state institute of transformation on the lines of NITI Aayog. The government has already operationalized the ‘SMART Village SMART Ward’ programme and a state Nutrition Mission.
Advancing children’s rights and well-being
UNICEF is the lead development partner in state to implement government’s flagship programme on health, the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) strategy in four districts. Besides, this UNICEF gives technical support the state to reduce stunting and undernutrition among infants and young children by promoting appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and treatment and management of severe acute malnutrition. UNICEF also focuses on increasing hygiene awareness, supporting the state in its efforts to eliminate open defecation and ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water. It supports in strengthening the state’s capacity to access, generate and use data for evidence-based planning, budgeting and monitoring of health programmes. UNICEF supports the government in improving the quality of care provided in health care facilities, especially in marginalized communities. A key component of UNICEF’s work is incorporating social and behaviour change communication approaches in all programmes.
The focus of the immunization programme is on supporting the state’s efforts to eliminate measles, control rubella, introduce newer vaccines and address coverage issues in urban slums and pockets of low immunization coverage in the state. UNICEF also prioritizes improving the quality of cold chain and supply chain systems to ensure the quality of vaccines.
The state has a relatively good governance mechanism and the potential to demonstrate innovations in the field of nutrition. Through the existing Nutrition Mission, UNICEF works to strengthen multisectoral partnerships and initiate a social movement to reduce undernutrition at the gram panchayat level and particularly in tribal belts.
UNICEF prioritizes improving the quality of care and treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition through health facility-based and community-based approaches. UNICEF works to strengthen the reach and quality of the micronutrient supplementation programme for adolescent girls and women.
UNICEF is building the capacities of state and district officials for effective implementation of the sanitation programme, including timely delivery of services. In alliance with the public and private sector and civil society organizations, UNICEF is looking to create a large pool of swachh grahis (sanitation volunteers) in districts, blocks and gram panchayats to campaign for the creation of sustainable open defecation free communities.
UNICEF supports building the capacities of government departments for effective coordination, implementation and monitoring of the education programme. A key part of the advocacy efforts is on promoting model alternative elementary education systems that are flexible and inclusive in reaching out to out-of-school children and adolescents, especially those from marginalized communities.
UNICEF continues to build on systemic capacity to implement child-friendly teaching methods at scale for improved learning outcomes for children. Priority is given to strengthen implementation of social protection schemes that enable parents to send their children to school.
UNICEF’s work on education seeks to ensure strict enforcement of laws to protect children from hazardous labour, child marriage, trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
UNICEF assists the state in developing a trained child protection workforce, which includes recruitment and retention of staff. Support is also given to strengthening the implementation of child protection programmes by building the capacities of child welfare committees, special juvenile police units and Juvenile Justice Boards. UNICEF works to strengthen public finance mechanisms for the implementation of core child protection legislation. Priority is given to strengthening systems that prevent institutionalization of children and advocacy is focused on linkages with social protection schemes as a strategy to strengthen families and reduce the demand for residential care. Child protection committees and village vigilance groups have been formed to prevent child abuse and exploitation and provide a safe environment for children.
UNICEF works with the state to strengthen enforcement of laws to prevent child marriage and focuses on placing violence against children and child marriage in the public agenda to generate dialogue and make the issue increasingly visible and politically important.
UNICEF’s cross- cutting interventions are built around two life cycle phases – early childhood development (3-6 years) and adolescent empowerment (10-19 years) – which cut across all the programme outcomes to address children’s and women’s rights.
UNICEF sees investing in the second decade of life as critical to break the inter-generational cycle of deprivations as adolescents have the potential to become change makers and are not just passive beneficiaries. UNICEF facilitates community dialogue and behavioural change aimed at creating spaces for adolescents to participate and promote change in areas of concern to them. UNICEF contributes to strengthening social protection programmes to enable adolescent girls to go to school and complete secondary education.
The state is prone to natural disasters with seven districts vulnerable to frequent cyclones, affecting a sizable proportion of the state’s population. Similarly, four districts face frequent droughts. Support is given to mainstream child protection policies into disaster risk reduction initiatives for school safety. The programme in Rayalaseema region strengthens the participation of adolescents in disaster risk reduction planning by involving them in assessing child protection concerns during humanitarian situations.