MGNREGA Employment Rights

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MGNREGA (the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) is a government employment scheme that guarantees rural households 100 days of paid work every year doing unskilled manual labour. PACS has been working to increase the participation of socially excluded groups under this scheme.

Why is MGNREGA an issue for socially excluded groups?

Socially excluded groups face institutional and social discrimination that often prevents them from accessing employment opportunities. Therefore, MGNREGA is a vital livelihood option for poor households who struggle to make a living because they do not have productive farmland or marketable skills. MGNREGA ensures non-discriminatory access to work and the timely payment of fair wages.

However, take-up of this scheme, especially by socially excluded groups, has been low due to a lack of knowledge and support. Typical issues faced by socially excluded groups in accessing work under MGNREGA include:

  • Problems in demanding job cards and work under MGNREGA (due to slow, unresponsive local governance systems)
  • Being paid late or not at all
  • Not being included in the annual planning process to decide the works to be carried out under MGNREGA
  • Not being able to access the resulting assets (such as water pumps or irrigation systems)  

What work has PACS done on MGNREGA?

MGNREGA has been the largest thematic intervention for PACS, covering 78 districts and involving 132 civil society organisations. PACS work on MGNREGA has involved a number of interventions and initiatives including:

Kaam Maango Abhiyan (Work Demand Campaign)

Working with socially excluded communities to raise awareness of the work demand process and helping them to submit collective applications for MGNREGA work.

Inclusive Social Audits

Developing a social audit model to review MGNREGA work and assets, that includes all community members and involves an open, public hearing.

Inclusive IPPE Planning

Ensuring that the MGNREGA planning process is inclusive of all community members, ensuring that planned works benefit everyone.

In addition to these 3 cross-State interventions, PACS has also undertaken some pilot initiatives including:

  • ​​SESK Help Centres - establishing 10 MGNREGA Help Centres in the Giridih district of Jharkhand to provide support to communities in submitting work applications, following-up payments and addressing grievances.
  • MGNREGA Women Mates - Training over 1000 dalit women in the Jehanabad district of Bihar to take-up management roles as MGNREGA site supervisors (or "Mates") - a job normally done by men.
  • MGNREGA Research - Funding the data analysis and preparation of a research report to analyse the effectiveness of MGNREGA and its role as a catalyst for rural development

What impact has PACS MGNREGA work had?

  • 851,778 people have been supported to apply for MGNREGA work, of which 82.5% were from socially excluded groups.
  • 664,603 people actually received MGNREGA work. 81% of them were from socially excluded groups.
  • 330,379 people got paid on time and in full. 89% were from socially excluded groups.
  • In total, PACS-supported MGNREGA workers received 1,296,261,872 rupees as wages. 82.1% of this money went to people from socially excluded groups.
  • Empowered communities helped to ensure that 1,243,082 assets (such as ponds, wells and roads) were built under MGNREGA to benefit socially excluded communities.
  • Inclusive Integrated Participatory Planning Exercises were carried out in 2972 individual Gram Panchayats or villages, involving all members of the community.    
  • Inclusive social audits were carried out in 593 Gram Panchayats and villages to ensure that MGNREGA work is benefitting all community members.
  • 8437 training and sensitisation events have been held on the subject of MGNREGA, attended by a range of people including PACS partner staff, government officials, the media and CBO members.
  • 2021 advocacy meetings have been held with government officials and other stakeholders on the subject of MGNREGA, leading to 252 recommendations on MGNREGA being proposed.

Find more MGNREGA case studies on the PACS Learning Zone.

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