- Despite the MGNREGA guarantee of work on demand and unemployment allowance, it is difficult to make the system work because it is used to working in a supply-driven mode A long and hard struggle by WASSAN and its partners, REDS, EFFORT, PILUPU and APMSS succeeded in operationalising the system of work application, receipt and the provision of work within 15 days.
- After consortium partners helped wage seekers and set up workers’ collectives, the number of wage seekers applying for work increased and they started getting receipts. This system of obtaining receipts against formal application for work was almost absent throughout the state where there are no supportive organisations for the wage employment seekers.
- Participation in MGNREGS has looked up compared to previous years. In the 33 project villages, the number of households who have accessed wage employment in the year 2009-10 is 64 % of the total households registered, higher than the state average of 54% for the year 2009-10.
- The APMSS in Nalgonda district supported 4 groups to apply for unemployment allowance. Mandal officials did not respond despite several attempts, largely on account of a lack of clear guidelines as well as delay in approval at the state level. Through persistent effort, after four years of the implementation of MGNREGA, the department formalised the system of work applications and receipts and made it compulsory. The field functionaries (Field Assistants) are made responsible for conducting periodical meetings of wage labour groups and obtaining work applications in those group meetings as per the needs and demand of the members.
- Participation of SC/ST households is progressing at slow pace. After five years of work of the consortium partners, the participation of SC and ST households had crossed beyond 50% in five locations out of seven. Delays in opening of work and making payments are major reasons for relatively low participation of SCs
- The average number of wage days in the focus villages, put together, has also increased from 45 days in 2007-08 to75 days in 2009-10, which is higher than the state average of 64 days for the year 2009-10.
Drinking water remains the only common worksite facility provided throughout the state. Interventions on this front by WASSAN and partners are twofold:
- creating widespread awareness about worksite, organising workers to demand these facilities from the field level as well as mandal functionaries. This has led to a marked improvement in the provision of worksite facilities in project locations. For example a separate labour/person exclusive for arranging drinking water is now ensured without any lapse and in most cases first aid box with medicines are also noticed at worksite along with shade.
- However, the provision of facilities at worksite are dependent on the decisions taken at the state level. To address this, WASSAN and partner organisations regularly brought issues, problems and their own innovations to the notice of the department
REDS brought in Anganwadi centres as crèche centres for MGNREGS workers with the support of an aya provided under MGNREGS ensuring that the children are properly fed and shielded from direct sunlight. REDS has done a pilot in its working village tying up with the Anganwadi centre and even provided ragi malt to the children at the Anganwadi.
- Ensuring timely wages is a major challenge in MGNREGS. WASSAN and partners have ensured that wage seekers are aware about their entitlements with respect to payments. Instances of delayed payments were regularly brought to the notice of mandal, district and state administrations demanding appropriate action. This was made possible by putting up a mechanism in the form of regular interaction of wage labour groups and their leadership with the local functionaries/officials.
- Institutionalised processes of social audit, a 24 X 7 call centre, vigilance cells, district level ombudsmen and an Andhra Pradesh NGO Alliance (APNA) for MGNREGS are the important mechanisms that the state rural development department has set up to address grievances and to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of MGNREGS.
- All the consortium partners in AP are partners in the Andhra Pradesh NGO Alliance (APNA) and are engaging with MGNREGS at ground level besides providing feed back to the department to take necessary modifications in the system through appropriate policy interventions
- In the working villages the partner organisations are encouraging the workers to extensively use the toll free helpline number (15532) to register their complaints/field level problems. This process helped in making the workers directly represent their issues and owning the process. Organisations are only providing follow up support to these complaints. Several issues related to implementation processes like opening up of work within time, delay in payments, lack of worksite facilities, complaints about field level functionaries etc., are being reported through this number/system.
- AP state has established a society named Society for Social Audit, Accountability & Transparency (APSSAAT) exclusively for conducting social audits on NREGS in villages. The SSAAT undertakes social audit in each village once in 6 months with the support of Sate level Resource Persons (SRPs) and District level Resource Persons (DRPs). Partner organisations are helping the social audit team to ensure smooth conduct of social audits by participating in the process at the village level, mobilising the wage seekers for open forums, creating awareness among the wage seekers and ensuring penalty to the culprits. In several cases, with the involvement of consortium partners, misappropriated money was recovered. In some instances, criminal cases were also booked against culprits. In the selected villages it is noticed that wage seekers (particularly women wage seekers) are empowered to demand their entitlements.
Consortium partners have supported the government in identification of households and formation of groups, building their capacities with respect to EGS entitlements and procedures, facilitated in identification and planning of works.
The key activities taken up by WASSAN and the consortium partners towards building participatory planning and implementation of works are:
- Conducting regular wage labour group meetings at the village level.
- Supporting the Wage Labour Groups (FLGs and later SSS) in identifying the works in their lands and ensuring their participation, particularly in project mode planning and land inventory processes.
- Participating in the land inventory process and ensuring that the actual status of the lands of the SC/ST are taken and are included for development
- Mobilising wage seekers to participate in gram sabha and involving them in identification of works; follow-up with the mandal administration for the implementation of works identified.
- Training wage labour groups on record maintenance at panchayat level, updating of records.
- Training wage labour groups on sustainable agricultural practices and other household-level income generating activities such as poultry, dairy, and pisciculture.
- Bringing to the notice of mandal/district and state level administration the issues related to violation of transparent implementation process.
- Encouraging job card holders to use the toll-free compliant number in voicing their complaints/grievances.
The impact of the work of WASSAN and partners on migration was brought out in a study focussing on 7 villages comparing the status between 2005 (pre-MGNREGA) and 2010. The findings clearly showed that:
- by 2010, 62% of earlier migrating households of the selected villages had completely stopped migration.
- Seasonal migration has come down from 75% in 2005 to 30 % in 2010.
- Continuous migration has also come down from 25 % in 2005 to 8% in 2010.
- The drastic reduction in number of migrating households by 2010 can be mainly attributed to implementation of MGNREGS in the village, as i89% traditional migrating households are participating in MGNREGS. Across the study villages, household participation in MGNREGS is more than 70%,
The State Government invited Foundation for Ecological Security to facilitate implementation of MGNREGA in 6 Panchayats of Chittoor district in 2007-2008, on the village common lands. This provided the team an opportunity to demonstrate and extend its integrated natural resource management/watershed development initiatives using NREGS. Based on experience the work on NREGS was further extended to 14 Panchayats in 2008-2009. FES has concentrated on:
- Mobilization of wage earners and developing partnership towards diversification of livelihood options with respect to land and water
- Undertaking soil and moisture conservation on common land
Water harvesting structures
- Afforestation measures on the common land and private lands
Enhancing associated farm based livelihoods options
- Capacity building of the communities
Undertaking studies and documentation of physical interventions as well as social and economic processes associated with it
- Action plans worth Rs.4 crores were prepared for these panchayats. These are under implementation and have focussed on integrating priority activities under MGNREGA