Friday, July 2, 2010

MGNREGA so far...

This post is a summary of Amita Sharma's discussion paper (Rights-based legal guarantee as development policy), April 2010. I could not find a link to the full discussion paper but here is a presentation on the same. NREGA (they renamed it to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [MGNREGA] this fiscal year) is doing a phenomenal job in rural India at a cost below one percent of GDP. Specifically, the cost was around 0.6 percent of GDP last year. The total number of employment provided to households was over 45 million. Here is major highlights of NREGA. Intro here.

How the districts under different phases were selected?

Districts under phase I, II, and III were 200, 130, and 285 respectively. Mahatma Gandhi NREGA was implemented in phase I districts on February 2, 2006, phase II on April 2007, and phase III on April 1, 2008. The phase implementation was based on a criterion of backwardness, which included a mix of demographic, social and economic indices, formulated by the NPC.  This ranking was used to select 150 districts for the National Food for Work Programme (NFFWP) launched in 2004. However, the districts selected for phase I were not selected serially but to represent all states under NREGA. The districts chosen for phase I were dominantly tribal, low productivity districts, among which almost 50 percent are designated as Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP).
Early trends and outcomes
  • Increase in employment: SRGY and NFFWP together generated 0.82 billion persondays. Mahatma Gandhi NREGA generated 2.16 billion person-days in 2008-09. Around 50 million households have got employment. Also, a large number of skilled manpower is employed as engineers, village assistants (22063), IT personnel (6056), and accountants (5000) at the block level.
  • Enhancing income: Increase in minimum wages of unskilled agricultural workers. The average wage rate rose from INR 65 (US$1.4) per day to INR90 (US$2) per day from 2006 to 2010.
  • Targeting: Participation of women has been above 33 percent as required. This year women participation was close to 50 percent. Women have been drawn to work due to equal wages for men and women, flexibility to drop in and out of the program, availability of work in their locality, and no work requirement except willing to do ‘unskilled manual labor.’ Incomes from NREGA have been used to support food and consumer goods needs of households and education of children. Participation of women in local meeting has been increasing. In Kerala, savings of women have increased from US$14.97 million to US$25.61 million between 2008 and 2010. Furthermore, participation of SC/ST has increased. Most of them come from the backward classes.
  • Stemming migration: There is evidence of decrease in out-migration in places such as Narmada, Dang, Banaskantha, Dahod, Sabarkantha and Panch Mahals of Gujarat. A study (Will NREGA ensure security against hunger?) conducted by Paulomee Mistry and Jaswal Anshuman (2007) shows that migration from Dungarpur and Udaipur (Rajasthan), Jhabua and Dhar (Madhya Pradesh) and Nandurbar and Dhule (Maharashtra) declined from 1650 persons per year to 682 per year.
  • Augmenting productivity: By focusing on natural resource regeneration, NREGA is augmenting productivity. Survey respondents agreed that NREGA had led to increased water availability and a positive impact on agriculture through improved access to irrigation. Moreover, problems of drinking water scarcity have been addressed by NREGA works to some extent. There has been an increase in areas of land used for production. There has been restoration of ecological assets.
  • Expanding connectivity: Roads have connected markets, schools and health services. There has been increasing financial inclusion as workers are being paid through banks and postal offices. So far, around 88 million people have opened ban and post office accounts under NREGA. Meanwhile, ICT expansion in rural areas has increased transparency and accountability.