MGNREGA Research

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In 2014, a study of 1250 households in the 7 PACS states was conducted to assess the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on poverty reduction and its impact on women’s empowerment and inclusion. In 2015, PACS also funded the data analysis and preparation of a research report, carried out by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), to analyse the effectiveness of MGNREGA and its role as a catalyst for rural development.

2014 study

The 2014 report was carried out by a consultant for PACS. 1250 household surveys were conducted along with focus group discussions. In addition, consultation workshops and questionnaires were held with PACS Civil Society Organisation (CSO) partners working on MGNREGA.

The report found that there is a demand for MGNREGA work, particularly in areas where opportunities for wage employment are lacking or the wages offered are less than MGNREGA.

The study findings showed that in locations where MGNREGA has been effective in providing employment, it has improved the living standard of poor households as they use MGNREGA income on food, health, children’s education and clearing existing credit. MGNREGA has also created livelihood choices and reduced migration. In some cases it has completely stopped people from seeking work outside.

The study also found that MGNREGA has created empowerment and inclusion for female workers. It has brought women into the formal labour domain and cash economy. By paying women the same wages as men, MGNREGA has opened up possibilities for equality in wage labour. MGNREGA income has also enabled women to contribute to household and social expenses, increasing their status within their families. Through MGNREGA women have learnt to interact with government officials and engage with the formal governance processes. There is thus a widening of public space for women.

5 key issues regarding MGNREGA implementation were also highlighted by the study:

  1. There is an information gap about the provisions and technicalities of MGNREGA that deters people from demanding work.
  2. There is a demand-supply imbalance created by irregularities in job cards, delayed payments and non- availability of work when people need it.
  3. There is a lack of technical expertise at Panchayat level and a need for capacity building in this area.
  4. There is a need for rigour and regularity in monitoring processes by strengthening already existing mechanisms such as vigilance committees and management information systems.
  5. Integration of women in MGNREGA could be improved by actively involving them during planning and providing women with certain work place facilities, like crèches.

Given the potential of MGNREGA to transform the landscape of poverty and exclusion, the report concludes that attention should be given to policy, reviews and mechanisms so that MGNREGA can be better implemented.

2015 NCAER report

The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) – a collaborative project between NCAER and the University of Maryland – is a large, national panel survey collecting data on income, employment and household wellbeing. Carried out in 2004/05 (before MGNREGA was enacted) and then again in 2011/12, PACS funded NCAER to analyse the data from 26000 rural households to allow conclusions to be drawn about the impact of MGNREGA in its first 5 years.

The report found that MGNREGA has reduced poverty overall by up to 32% and has prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty.

The report also found that MGNREGA is often the first opportunity that women have had to earn a cash income – 45% of female MGNREGA workers surveyed in 2011/12 said that they were not earning back in 2004/05. Another positive impact is that reliance on moneylenders had decreased since the implementation of MGNREGA.

The report concludes that increasing participation, particularly in states with poor MGNREGA implementation, is required if MGNREGA is to achieve its full potential.

You can download the NCAER report from the PACS Learning Zone.

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