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Aahar Programme

Addressing malnutrition by strengthening public systems and promoting community ownership of child nutrition.

Dharavi and Wadala (Mumbai)

Our Work

We believe that strong engagement with both communities and public health systems, can lead to improved health-seeking behaviour and improved service delivery.

Our flagship nutrition programme, Aahar, works to prevent and treat malnutrition in children in less than 2 years of age. We partner with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a central government welfare scheme that provides health and nutrition services. Our work covers 142 ICDS anganwadis (child care centres) across vulnerable settlements in Dharavi and Wadala. In Dharavi, competency training is being done with 300 anganwadis.

Child Health and Nutrition

Our intervention is primarily focused on reducing all three forms of malnutrition i.e stunting, wasting and underweight, ensure full immunisation of children and improve Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices.

Maternal health and nutrition

We work to ensure that pregnant women receive optimal antenatal, perinatal and postnatal care. We identify pregnant women early and support them in accessing services from health care providers.

Family Planning

We work to increase uptake of family planning services and improve contraceptive prevalence rate. The main objective of working on family planning is to ensure planned parenthood and promote use of contraceptive methods.

Building awareness and mobilising communities

In our efforts towards building a strong volunteer-driven culture, we work on forming Community Advisory Groups (CAG) and a cadre of community residents who will hold anganwadis accountable for service delivery. We conduct public awareness activities to improve uptake of ICDS services, while promoting good health practices.

Strengthening ICDS implementation

We focus on training and building capacities of anganwadi sevikas (government-employed community health workers who deliver ICDS services) to improve nutrition service delivery in our intervention areas.

Competency training ICDS staff in Dharavi

In order to strengthen the ICDS, it is vital to build the capacities and confidence of its staff. ICDS staff at all levels are imparted technical and behavioural training. These capacity building sessions provide the ICDS staff opportunity to undergo a process of self-development, bring about change, facilitate critical thinking and instill in them willingness for transformative action.

Reach and Impact




Improvement in contraceptive prevalence rate among married women of reproductive age
(Increase from 28% in 2021-22 to 45% in 2022-23)


Improvement in children covered by ICDS for anthropometry up from 59% to 93% in 2021-2022


Improvement in pregnant women registering in the first trimester (early registration) for antenatal care services
(Increase from 52% in 2021-22 to 58% in 2022-23)

Notes from the field
Learnings by volunteers for resolving reluctant cases

Handling reluctant cases and their queries pertaining to ICDS mandated services can be challenging for the volunteers. Therefore, imparting timely, updated information on ICDS services through volunteers’ training sessions helps them deal with community queries with confidence.

It was the time when the Maharashtra government kick-started a six-week measles-rubella vaccination drive across all schools. SNEHA’s volunteer Bina Qureshi* came to know that some parents were reluctant to vaccinate their children with the measles and rubella vaccine at the community school where her 6-year-old daughter Sarah* was studying.

During this critical time, the school teachers requested Sarah’s mother Bina to speak to the reluctant parents on measles and rubella vaccine. Bina responsibly nodded yes to the challenge and recollected as much information as possible from her recent measles and rubella volunteers’ training conducted by SNEHA’s community organiser. She brought into the limelight the fact that more than 1.3 million children acquired measles infection and around 49,000 infected children died each year in India.

Moreover, she also shared that rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects; it led to the development of birth defects in almost 40,000 children annually in the country. Hearing this, the reluctant parents understood the seriousness of measles-rubella vaccination and allowed doctors to vaccinate their children.

Volunteer Bina’s presence of mind and strenuous efforts in tackling reluctant cases received a huge round of applause and appreciation from her daughter’s school authorities, ICDS Sevika and SNEHA’s community organiser.

*Name changed


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