Who Does the ICDS Nutrition Program Reach, and What Effect Does It Have?

Monica Das Gupta, World Bank Group
Michael Lokshin, World Bank Group
Oleksiy Ivaschenko, World Bank Group

Levels of child malnutrition in India have fallen only slowly during the 1990s, despite significant economic growth and much spent on the ICDS, a large supplementary feeding program. Gains in nutrition status are evident largely amongst the upper socio-economic groups, and amongst boys. We assess the program’s placement and its outcomes, using NFHS data from 1992 and 1998. We find that program placement is clearly regressive across states. The states with the greatest need for the program, ¾ the low-income Northern states with high levels of child malnutrition and nearly half India’s population, ¾ have the lowest program coverage, and the lowest budgetary allocations from the central government. Program placement within a state is more progressive: poorer and larger villages have a higher probability of having an ICDS centre, as do those with other development programs or community associations. We find little evidence of program impact on child nutrition status.

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Presented in Session 108: Long Term Effects of Early Childhood Interventions