Poverty Alleviation Fund 2 (PAF-2)

Poverty Alleviation Fund 2 (PAF-2)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM)
YEARS: 2009-2010
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF-2) is a development project funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Poverty Alleviation Fund in Nepal. The project’s objective is to improve living conditions and empower the rural poor, with particular attention to groups that have been excluded based on gender, ethnicity, caste or geographical location. The Poverty Alleviation Fund disburses funds to over 20,000 Community Organizations (COs) working with numerous Partner Organizations (POs) who in turn employ social mobilizers (SMs) to implement pro-poor activities. It is disbursing money in 40 districts ranked as the poorest by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The overall objective of the CARTA sub-project was to strengthen local community organization (CO) capacity for effective and efficient project management so they can better serve their communities. The specific sub-project objectives were to:

  • Enable COs to monitor partner organizations’ downward accountability
  • Increase knowledge and skill of COs on good governance, networking, and project management
  • Update and refine participatory tools and indicators used to evaluate the institutional development of COs
  • Enable COs to review their own institutional development using a participatory process

These objectives were intended to increase the ability of COs to hold partner organizations accountable and provide better service to their local communities. Awareness raising activities helped COs better understand partner organization obligations under PAF-2, recognize their own development needs and improve their monitoring and project management capacities.

The sub-project activities resulted in a number of positive improvements:

  • 100% of the 120 community organizations (COs) had training plans (baseline: 0%)
  • 45% of COs registered written grievances (baseline: 5%)
  • Annual visits by social mobilizers increased to 8 (baseline: 7.7), and the quality of these visits improved, allowing social mobilizers to better fulfill their tasks such as assessing training needs, providing training plans, and checking CO progress
  • 92% of COs were satisfied with the services provided by POs (baseline: 60%) due to the increased knowledge levels of the COs and higher response levels of the POs
  • Revised assessment tools enabled 100% of the COs to complete a self-review of their own institutional development in a participatory way (baseline: 17.5%)

CARTA activities (trainings, individual coaching and counseling sessions) had a positive impact on the community organization (CO) level of institution development, regardless of their establishment year. At the conclusion of the CARTA sub-project, none of the COs were in the nascent stage. This trend shows COs acquired more self-confidence in their own competence and independence.

In addition, COs joined networks according to their needs. Becoming members of larger thematic networks (e.g. saving associations and cooperatives). These positive changes present an optimistic outlook on the capabilities of COs to improve the living conditions and livelihoods of the rural poor where the central government does not have a strong presence. In this way, COs can be more effective fulfilling their roles if they can leverage their skills and networks.

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Enhanced Vocational Education and Training (EVENT)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC)
YEAR: 2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $134,132
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

In 2011 and 2012, over 385,000 people left Nepal seeking better employment opportunities. Their remittances officially amounted to one quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP). More than 75% of migrant workers from Nepal are unskilled workers, leading to low remittance levels per migrant. Enhancing the skill levels of migrant workers can be a strategy for diversifying the nation’s economic growth.

The enhanced vocational education and training (EVENT) project trains a roster of professionals who can in turn train workers or assess worker skills in key trades. The objective is to improve the skill levels of workers in Nepal and provide better job opportunities emigrating workers. The Department of Education (DOE), which is responsible for implementing EVENT, has sub-contracted project activities to two Nepali organizations: the training institute for technical instruction (TITI) and the national skill testing board (NSTB).

The CARTA sub-project was primarily focused on third party monitoring (TPM). The main objective was to monitor and verify the outputs and activities related to the various World Bank indicators of success. This involved input-tracking of training schedules, compiling trainee lists (with trainee profiles, including photographs), obtaining training records, evaluating training completion reports, direct observation of the training program and interviews with trainees and graduates. The sub-project also assessed the quality of the training and determined the frequency of individual training sessions from the participant’s perspective via satisfaction surveys. These monitoring activities were carried on with the approval and knowledge of the Department of Education (DOE), which requested that the training of trainers, skills test assessors and managers be sampled from 2012-13 and 2013-14 training sessions.

The sub-project produced a monitoring and verification report, which included the results of the beneficiary satisfaction survey. The report made recommendations related to EVENT-type training programs and introducing third party monitoring (TPM) more broadly.

Observations, interviews and the beneficiary survey indicated that participants and trainers believed the presence of third-party monitors led to improvements in the quality of the training. In addition, they considered TPM to be a good practice and believed it should continue. The survey showed that 96% of the respondents from all five EVENT programs responded positively to the question of whether TPM was needed to improve the quality of training. In interviews, both trainees and instructors stated that being aware of somebody watching caused them to perform better. Hence, the verification process had a bonus outcome of enhanced quality of the service delivery.

The primary beneficiaries of the EVENT program appreciated the changes that independent third party monitoring (TPM) produced and expressed their enthusiasm for the extension of TPM. Nevertheless, there is no indication, as of yet, that independent TPM will continue.

Many development projects strive to have an inclusive social outreach and deliver better outcomes to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. However, development projects are often experiencing difficulties reaching their target beneficiaries. The survey indicated that, across all five types of programs, 32% of the trainees were women, 4% were Dalit and 30% were Janajati. Although there was no fixed target for the inclusion of different ethnic groups in the trainings, inclusiveness was one of the objectives of EVENT. Consequently, the sub-project recommendations not only underscored the need for a more transparent and accountable trainee selection process but also the need for social inclusiveness to fully realize the EVENT objectives.

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Community Action for Nutrition (CAN)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer (NEST)
YEARS: 2014-2015
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

The Sunaula Hazar Din – Community Action for Nutrition (SHD-CAN) Project was designed to address the risk factors of chronic malnutrition in children. From early 2014, Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer (NEST) undertook independent monitoring of the SHD-CAN project with the support of CARTA. It mobilized seven Cluster Verification Officers to monitor the project implementation process and to verify the reports produced. Through a consultative process, NEST developed checklists for field verification of the RRNI projects. Participatory methodologies such as focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and field observations, etc., were used to collect data and information after the completion of the first cycle and partial completion of the second cycle of RRNI projects.

The Community Action for Nutrition (CAN) program’s objective is to improve the nutritional practices of women and children. The project employs the rapid results approach, supporting community Rapid Results Nutrition Initiatives (RRNIs). Key nutritional challenges are discussed by Ward Citizen Forums (WCFs). The WCFs establish RRNI teams to implement initiatives designed to accomplish nutrition improvement objectives selected from a prescribed list through 100-day initiatives. The process is repeated through several cycles. Nutrition and Food Security Steering Committees (NFSSCs) at the Village Development Committee and district levels approve funding for proposed initiatives, depending on the amount of funding requested. The project also includes support for project management, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation to support implementation.

The CARTA program provided independent third-party monitoring of first and second cycle RRNIs, to provide feedback at the start of the program. The objectives were to:

  • Verify that key service providers carried out all the activities for effective facilitation of the RRNI process, assisted by the RRNI teams
  • Increase stakeholders’ access to project information
  • Verify reports prepared by the service providers who support RRNI teams

NEST’s monitoring of first and second cycle RRNIs identified several deviations from mandated procedures and inaccuracies in service providers’ reports. For example, there were delays in the approval of initiatives, the release of funds and the completion of initiatives; orientation meetings and planned reviews, and monitoring were delayed or not conducted; and public audits were only conducted in 46% of the first cycle cases. The reports were considered accurate in only 62% of the first cycle cases.

In addition to shortcomings, NEST’s monitoring identified positive developments:

  • Improved sanitation status and behavior
  • Increased community awareness of the importance of proper nutrition, family planning, water purification and arsenic mitigation, and other community issues
  • Inclusion of excluded populations (e.g. women, the poor/marginalized) in project planning, implementation & monitoring
  • Project transparency and minimization of opportunities for corruption
  • Strengthened multi-stakeholder partnerships among health posts, schools, and local CBOs
  • Institution of a MoFALD standard monitoring structure at all governing levels

NEST’s monitoring and interactions with various stakeholders increased their awareness and strengthened their capacities to carry out their roles in project implementation. Its findings alerted project officials and the World Bank to implementation issues, providing a basis for improvements.

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Social Investment Program Project (SIPP-II)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre
YEARS: 2014-2015
THEMES: Infrastructure; Social Saftey Nets

Poverty alleviation is the greatest challenge Bangladesh currently faces. Although Bangladesh has shown impressive economic and social gains, the level of poverty continues to be a challenge with 32% of the total population living below the poverty line in 2010.  The objective of the Social Investment Program Project (SIPP II) is to improve the livelihoods and quality of life, and build resilience to climate variability, natural hazards and other shocks experienced by the rural poor. The first phase of SIPP, approved in 2003, primarily focused on the critical small-scaled infrastructure services, and social assistance given to the rural poor.  The second phase aims to empower the community and prioritize support to the poor by building and strengthening systems and linkages with other funded programs. Micro-credit schemes have been an important tool for poverty eradication and a central pillar of SIPP II.

The CARTA sub-project was designed to improve the existing governance practices of the village-level institution, focusing on the micro-credit scheme under SIPP-II. The specific objectives were to:

  • Assess the transparency and accountability of funds management established in the framework of the micro-credit scheme
  • Improve the capacity of existing village micro-credit supervision structures to ensure transparency and accountability of the micro-credit scheme at the village level

The sub-project perception survey provided valuable insights about the perceptions and experiences of beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries and village level committee members. Through the data collection process, it was noticed that many officials and elites were reluctant to cooperate with the evaluation process, which had a negative effect on the beneficiary willingness to participate freely. The survey only provided a snapshot of the micro-credit scheme so no value judgment can be inferred from the effects of the capacity building element of the CARTA sub-project.

Although some community beneficiaries were organized in monitoring groups (Sachetan Dals) and received capacity building training on social accountability tools, SIPP-II policies, human rights and good governance, it is too early to know whether they will disseminate their knowledge or take a sustained and active monitoring role in the community. However, the perception survey painted a bleak picture of the viability of the program if no program reform is made. Only 39% committee members admitted that the loans are used for right purpose and they duly monitor the loans. In addition, 27% of committee members believe that the loan is a grant so it doesn’t have to be repaid.

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Emergency Peace Support Project (EPSP)

YEARS: 2013-2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $120,549
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

The Emergency Peace Support Project (EPSP) seeks to contribute to the peace building process in Nepal by providing interim cash transfers and services to eligible conflict-affected groups. So far, interim cash benefits have been provided to 14,104 families of the deceased and 4,444 widows. Employment and self-employment services (ESES) have also been delivered to about 3,030 conflict-affected persons (CAPs). Beneficiaries have access to rehabilitation in targeted districts, including widows, orphans, and those injured and disabled in conflict, families of those killed in conflict, families of the disappeared, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and those abducted during conflict. A major component of the project is centered around increasing transparency and accountability in the delivery of benefits.

The general objective of the sub-project was to assess the effectiveness of EPSP and to enhance rights, transparency and accountability through citizen participation by 2014. Specific objectives were to:

  • Assess the extent to which service providers are delivering the rehabilitation support to conflict-affected persons
  • Indicate the level of understanding on benefits and support among beneficiaries, and to increase the familiarity of citizens with peace support packages
  • Improve the grievance redress mechanism at local level
  • Promote accountability among service providers by identifying the key areas of interventions/ improvements

The sub-project produced a report based on the use of citizen report cards and a final assessment. Both reports included recommendations to improve the service delivery of benefits to conflict-affected persons. Local peace committees (LPCs), conflict-affected persons, civil society and political parties publicly committed their support to enhance the effectiveness of EPSP through citizen participation.

Some of the key sub-project results included:

  • Increased level of awareness among conflict-affected persons,  resulting in increased applications for support.
  • Increased citizen engagement and empowerment facilitating the formation and organization of local conflict-affected persons alert groups, citizen charters and LPCs at the village development committee (VDC) level.
  • Establishment of an effective grievance mechanism at the VDC level. LPCs recorded grievances, published updated status and forwarded complaints to the district level when necessary. LPCs, district staff and local radio informed people about grievance management mechanisms and encouraged them to register complaints at LPC.
  • Increased citizen awareness and motivation through media mobilization. Local radios broadcasted interviews with key stakeholders and motivated citizens to follow community organizations and write complaints.
  • Enhanced fulfillment of the Right to Information Act through the formation of an information desk at the district level.

Before CARTA, service providers had neither monitoring nor grievance mechanisms in place. In addition, an overwhelming majority of conflict-affected persons (73.9%) had no information of the EPSP program. After the CARTA intervention, service providers became more transparent and accountable as beneficiaries had a better understanding of benefits, including eligibility criteria, application process, payment disbursement mechanism, service providers, the formation process of local peace committees and grievance mechanisms.

Any positive relationship requires constant effort so it is expected that stakeholders will continue to cooperate and remain actively engaged in improving the service delivery of the ESPS program. If this occurs, ESPS has the potential to set off the path for reconciliation and bring unity and cohesion to Nepal.

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Empowering Women in Urban Slums to Fight Corruption in Service Delivery in Bangalore, India

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR)
YEARS: 2009-2010
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

Corruption in a variety of government administered safety net programs has prompted the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), an Indian Public Charitable Trust, headquartered in Delhi, to take action. CFAR is working on a range of issues such as advocating for the rights of the urban poor, strengthening implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, and HIV/AIDS. CFAR is active in 37 slum settlements across 7 cities of Delhi, Jaipur, Pune, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Bangalore. A key intervention of CFAR in Karnataka, is ‘Monitoring of Government Food Schemes and Schemes for Vulnerable Women through Community Participation and Action to Create Transparent Governance’, supported by PTF. The project aims at empowering women to advocate for corruption-free service delivery, giving power to communities to hold the government accountable in five slums in Bangalore City.

Corruption Problem Addressed
Corruption is pervasive in India’s welfare and social safety net programs and has deprived citizens, especially the poor and most vulnerable, of their rights and entitlements frequently and across the country. Building on its prior work with communities in four slum settlements in Bangalore City, CFAR held group discussions with community member to identify roots, effects and symptoms of corruption targeting the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.

During the deliberations, one of the participants concluded, “We do not even know when the shopkeeper opens his shop [Fair Price Shop (FPS) – mandated to distribute food entitlements to eligible families under the PDS scheme]. Moreover the quality of food grains that we get is not good at all. We have filed complaints several times but to date have not received any response.” This sentiment was echoed by other citizens, “When we ask the personnel why such a small quantity is being given, she says this is what the government has allotted.”

CFAR confirmed these observations conducting a pilot baseline survey. Out of a sample size of 302 households, only 135 respondents had a ration card. The analysis of the 135 card holders revealed that 127 were BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders, however only 63 card holders were distributed rations. Further research revealed a number of malpractices in the distribution of rations and improper functioning of ration shops and the non-functioning of vigilance committees.

Similarly, and with respect to the ICDS program, the survey showed that although there were 60 children that had been enlisted with the Department of Women and Child Development, there was no actual Anganwadi center for children to visit. Furthermore, the existent ICDS centers served the improper quality and quantity of food to children. Development committees were not functioning and there was a lack of basic amenities at the Centers.

Actions Taken by CFAR
The first phase of the project focused on the identification and prioritization of corruption problems to be tackled. This effort included strengthening and scaling up women-led forums across 5 slum settlements in Bangalore. CFAR concentrated on establishing and strengthening women-led community collectives. These women’s collectives consist of members who have decided to come together under a common banner, Daksha Samuha, to claim their rights and entitlements. After being trained in filing RTI applications, the women were divided into two groups: Community Advocates who actively participate and initiate action, and Community Volunteers, who converge during large scale events, such as public hearings, consultations, demonstrations, etc.

CFAR facilitated conducting five public hearings

CFAR facilitated conducting five public hearings

Thanks to the reputation CFAR has built over the years, and though informal in nature, these women’s forums have become a sought space for the community to seek justice and address grievances. Some of the forum members also participate in government-mandated grass-roots bodies, such as AnganwadiDevelopment Committees under the ICDS scheme and in vigilance committees under the PDS.

CFAR focused on capacity building and community empowerment and established a variety of advocacy tools through which the communities’ voices could be heard and government authorities targeted: The RTI-trained community advocates filed petitions, held public hearings, requested and conducted social audits, advocated with government agencies, and networked with other campaigns and movements. Emphasis was placed on evidence-based advocacy using visual documentation and case studies to show the horrific and often times appalling state of public service delivery.

Over the course of the project, three public hearings were held on issues affecting basic amenities in the ICDS, and four consultations (two on the Food Security Act, one with FPS owners, and a fourth to declare and publicize two model ration shops). For the consultation with FPS owners, the ground work was laid through establishing a relationship with the Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies (KFCS) officials, and the President of FPS owners’ association.

Sample of an RTI Application

Sample of an RTI Application

Impact and Results Achieved
Results of the first phase include:

  • 47 RTI applications submitted.
  • 28 trained members of the Daksha Samuha (community group), including in-depth knowledge on the usage of the RTI Act, entitlements under various ration card formats, and social benefits.
  • Training on conducting negotiations with the government and other stakeholder, including engaging with the media.
  • Filing of new applications for BPL ration cards for approximately 1,000 people (out of 1,030 who did not have ration cards) which resulted in 371 newly issued BPL cards.
  • Three public hearings covering 550 people or 67% of the 820 households on issues of basic amenities, PDS and Right to Housing.
  • Based on the complaints filed by the Daksha Samuha, the KFCS took back twice inedible grain allotted to FPS shops. Furthermore, one ration shop was seized.
  • Following a public hearing, two new bore wells and two additional water tanks were installed to ensure proper water supply for the 242 residents. Additionally, all households were given an electricity connection, the main road was paved and proper drainage lines were laid. A sweeper was assigned to clean the area three times a week

Based on the feedback received from the community, corruption in the area appears to be declining. Some 362 BPL cards were issued without any bribes being paid. Similarly, other beneficiaries, such as widows (275), senior citizens (170) and disabled persons (7) are receiving pensions, and 400 senior citizens now avail of the mid-day meals without paying bribes.

More significantly, a culture of fighting corruption has been created amongst the forum members and is not limited to PDS and ICDS. The Daksha Samuha now works with government maternity hospitals. The women trained by CFAR no longer depend on the CSO, but show the courage to fight independently and organize the community to achieve additional results.

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Benchmarking and Curbing Corruption in Local Service Delivery in Brahmapur City, India

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Youth for Social Development (YSD)
YEARS: 2008 – 2009 (Phase I); 2009 – 2011 (Phase II)
GRANT AMOUNT: $15,000 USD (Phase I); $31,870 USD (Phase II)
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

Petty corruption permeates basic service delivery in the city of Brahmapur in Odisha State, India. Youth for Social Development (YSD), a local CSO, decided to survey different corruption issues at the local level in order to map magnitude, prevalence and possible entry points for civil society to hold the government to account and demand corruption-free service delivery. During phase one, YSD implemented the ‘Urban Corruption Survey in Brahmapur City’ -project and successfully raised citizen awareness. Phase two of the project concentrated on mobilizing the community and building capacity.

The second phase was named ‘Enabling Citizen Monitoring of Public Services, Preventing Bribery to Foster Effective Service Delivery in Brahmapur City of Odisha’. Throughout both phases of this ‘Citizens against Corruption’ (CAC) project, YSD advocated on behalf of the poor and supported citizen monitors and communities to constructively engage with local officials. Based on the results of phases one and two, an extension of the project (phase three) was recommended and a new grant signed in 2011.

Corruption Problem Addressed
Modern governments play a significant role in the provision of basic services, including supplying drinking water, primary education, health care, social safety nets, maintaining roads and many other services. These services are essential in providing infrastructure for economic growth and helping citizens lead better and healthier lives. Problems arise if services are not provided corruption-free and ordinary people, especially the poor, are hard pressed to pay speed money in order to gain access to services controlled by a few public officials. Refusal to pay often leads to delayed decision-making or outright denial of services, posing a clear violation of citizens’ rights to entitlements as stipulated by the law.

A study by Transparency International India found that 62% of all Indians have had first hand experiences paying bribes or “using a contact” to successfully receive services that should be provided corruption-free. Citizens are increasingly vocal about the absence of transparency and accountability in public service delivery and are looking for ways and means to hold governments and officials accountable for their actions (or inactions).

YSD decided to map the magnitude and prevalence of corruption in six basic services provided by government agencies in the city of Brahmapur to establish a baseline and help communities target their ensuing anti-corruption efforts. Key findings of the survey were:

  • 82% of the citizens were required to pay bribes
  • The Brahmapur Development Authority (BDA) and Land Record and Administration Services offices were rated among the most corrupt agencies
  • Common citizens pay up to $1,28 million USD in bribes per year (estimate)
  • The two most important reasons for citizens to engage in bribery are a) fear of harassment and b) delay in service delivery
  • The top two procedural reasons propelling citizens to succumb to bribery demands are a) unavailability of information and b) non-transparent application procedures

Actions Taken by YSD
YSD conducted a comprehensive survey of 2008 households (4.5% of the total population) during the first phase of the project. The areas surveyed included (1) provision of drinking water, (2) municipal services, (3) public health care, (4) public distribution system (PDS), (5) BDA services and (6) Land Record and Administration Services. Completing the study, YSD arranged for focus group discussion with public officials, academics, the community and civil society organizations.

To present its findings, YSD – in partnership with the district administration – then organised a report release workshop, inviting senior officials of selected service agencies and the vigilance department. Three major daily newspapers, including the national media ‘The Hindu’, as well as various local media outlets reported.

YSD facilitated communities to start deliberating on how to best engage with authorities and other stakeholders to demand corruption-free services

YSD facilitated communities to start deliberating on how to best engage with authorities and other stakeholders to demand corruption-free services

Following the survey, YSD engaged in the following activities to raise awareness, mobilize the community and enable constructive engagement between authorities and citizens to improve service delivery in phase two. YSD –

  • conducted 24 awareness and sensitization camps
  • mobilized 8 slum communities
  • trained 32 citizen monitors, introducing anti-corruption tools, such as filing RTIs and social audits
  • engaged with public officials through 2 trainings and 3 public hearings
  • facilitated the formation of a CAC coalition
  • produced IEC materials (10,000 leaflets, 1000 pamphlets, 2 toolkits, 1 hand books, 3 reports and 6 newsletters)

To make use of the outputs created and to facilitate constructive engagement between the various stakeholders toward achieving results in the fight against corruption, YSD facilitated CAC and citizen monitors meetings with public officials from various departments, PDS fair price shop owners and a few elected representatives.

Obstacles and challenges encountered

YSD experienced opposition from elite groups with vested interests. While this observation can be interpreted as an indicator for tackling the right issues, it nonetheless made YSD’s work challenging to the degree that YSD staff was threatened by officials and a few corrupt ration shop owners. It also serves as an indicator why communities might come under duress, fearing to get involved in rights education and/or championing the fight against corruption.

In addition, there was some difficulty in identifying anti-corruption champions within the upper echelons of local government, inviting and involving senior officials to participate meaningfully in the proposed activities. Junior level staff however pushed the agenda to the upper level.

Impact and Results Achieved
The survey results, citizen monitoring observations as well as social audit reports produced, are not just used in the activities conducted by YSD but served as important indicators and benchmarks for activities undertaken by other CSOs, media and government agencies alike. A short video on PDS, a toolkit on the use of RTI and a citizen handbook on RTI applications are continuously used to raise community awareness on governance issues not only in Brahmapur but also in other communities,  for example in Gajapati and Ganjam.

Other measurable results include the filing of a total 161 RTI applications, 3 social audits, 3 public hearings and a community score card (CSC) survey conducted in communities to assess the provision of PDS and Water services. As a result of the various interventions facilitated by YSD and follow-up discussions with stakeholders, YSD has observed the following impact:

  • 28% decrease in bribery (baseline vs. end-of-project survey)
  • Participation in citizen monitoring increased
  • 12 vigilance committees active in the project area to monitor PDS shop operations

    Four slums have been provided with access to public water in a corruption-free manner after waiting for a long period prior to the project intervention

    Four slums have been provided with access to public water in a corruption-free manner after waiting for a long period prior to the project intervention

  • Increased discourse among civil society and public officials on corruption at public agencies
  • Citizens groups are empowered to effectively monitor service delivery
  • Proactive information disclosure by six public agencies has improved
  • Service delivery norms and procedures were  disclosed and disseminated by three authorities
  • Office orders were issued to mandatorily display and update information on citizen information boards  by three government agencies
  • 30 beneficiaries’ cards were transferred to another shop due to a corrupt shop owner
  • 4 slums have been provided with access to public water in a corruption-free manner
  • 4 communities were provided with rationed items in a corruption-free manner
  • 2 PDS shop owners were required to provide full quota of kerosene in two slums in Brahmapur city
  • 1 PDS shop owner was suspended due to complaints from the beneficiaries.
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Empowering the Youth to Demand Corruption-Free Service Delivery in India

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM)
YEARS: 2009-2010
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

Corruption and poor service delivery in the distribution of social safety net entitlements under the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the Mysore District of Karnataka State, has prompted the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) to increase citizen awareness, empower youth groups and launch a fully fledged Right-to-Information (RTI) campaign to enable communities to demand responsiveness and better service delivery from the Fair Price Shops (FPS) responsible for the PDS entitlement distribution. SVYM has successfully implemented the “Community Movement against Corruption” project and is currently building on that success conducting a second phase with the objective to further institutionalize citizen oversight, particularly Citizen Vigilance Committees ensuring financial, technical, social and institutional sustainability of the results achieved thus far.

Corruption Problem Addressed
SVYM conducted a baseline survey that identified irregularities and documented the extent of corruption experienced. These issues included the quality and quantity of food grains distributed under the PDS scheme, the maintenance of records, insufficient supply and overpricing, faulty measuring devices, hoarding grains and black marketing. Eligible citizens did not receive ration cards while ineligible persons received Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards. Vigilance committees and community oversight to demand better service delivery were not well functioning.

FPS owners routinely denied citizens their mandated rations, keenly aware that beneficiaries would not approach the oversight authorities due to a lack of awareness and information about their rights. Not all FPSs displayed correct information, including stock positions and prices on the display boards. 41% of households said there was sufficient information displayed while 42.4% said it was incomplete. Roughly 16% reported that there was either no display board or no information written on it. About 5% had no knowledge about the necessity for a display board at all. At the same time it was found that if individual beneficiaries demanded the full entitlement, FPS owners tended to issue the allotted rations without demur.

Actions Taken by SVYM
At the outset of the project SVYM conducted an extensive baseline survey, which helped to pinpoint particular issues and weaknesses in the PDS distribution scheme. Upon analysis of the survey, SVYM organized recurring multi-stakeholder meetings bringing together government officials, FPS owners, CSOs, CBOs and community members in order to foster constructive engagement between the different parties.

SVYM engaged in a variety of activities geared toward awareness raising and capacity building that included tools and strategies such as street plays and video showings, the use of various media outlets, street painting and even door-to-door campaigning. Overall SVYM trained some 1075 students in 17 schools and empowered 80 youth groups to as well as 60 NGO representatives to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a tool to demand information. The trainings often included government officials.  SVYM furthermore laid the groundwork to install and empower citizen vigilance committees, a task to be implemented during the second phase of the project. To achieve sustainability, SVYM has paid special attention toward fostering young leaders with the intention to groom youths to take the fight against corruption forward in the future.

Impact and Results Achieved
The results achieved include:

  • 300 new BPL cardholders from within the project area, out of a total of 536 newly distributed cards.
  • Critically augmented awareness levels regarding beneficiaries’ rights and responsibilities toward entitlements from FPS owners by the community.
  • Government officials maintain closer contact with the public and have become more responsive. FPS owners have agreed to work with SVYM and the community.
  • Youth groups have actively started demanding their full entitlements from FPS owners.
  • The number of RTI applications has increased, as has use of SVYM’s RTI Facilitation Center.

Government officials have started attending all meetings organized by SVYM and interact regularly with communities, showing an increased rate of responsiveness and accountability. Another result was the increased focus exhibited by the Food Inspector who now pays special attention to PDS and visits FPSs in the villages and tribal hamlets regularly, along with SVYM team members, taking necessary action if needed.

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Empowering Citizens to Demand Corruption-Free Access to Livelihood Entitlements in Karnataka, India

YEARS: 2009-2010
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

Paraspara Trust (PT), a local CSO in Karnataka, India, has successfully implemented the project: “Addressing Corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS) by Citizen Groups – a pilot project in Bangalore”. The project empowered citizens to ensure corruption-free service delivery of social safety net entitlements as set forth by the law. The project was a success; the incentives for citizens to follow the project objectives and methodology should be self-perpetuating in the long run. However the challenge of sustainability remains.

Corruption Problem Addressed
Corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS), a social safety net entitlement program, is a major issue in India. Corruption permeates seemingly all government departments in Karnataka, including the Department for Food and Civil Supplies. The complex system of intermediaries and contractors active in purchase, distribution, and stocking of commodities gives way to often harmful discretionary decision-making by officials and makes oversight and control difficult.

A maximum of corrupt activities takes place in the issuance of BPL/APL (Below Poverty Line/Above Poverty Line) cards to eligible families, where the victims are the urban poor and the most vulnerable. PT conducted a survey in 30 urban slum communities covering 5,000 families to identify BPL eligible families. The survey identified about 750 eligible families (15%), who either did not have BPL or APL ration cards or reported having to pay middlemen to bribe the concerned officials to obtain the entitlement cards. Based on these findings, PT identified a variety of corruption problems, mainly pertaining to the issuance and management of the distribution of BPL/APL cards.

As a consequence and in the absence of BPL cards, eligible poor families purchase rations from the open market and pay more than INR 25/kg for rice and INR 40/litre for kerosene (the primary fuel for cooking). As most family members are daily wage earners in unorganized (non-unionized) sectors, like construction and garments, or are domestic servants, these prices are unaffordable to them. Their livelihood is threatened and their guaranteed rights are violated. Ironically, the government is trying to reduce the issuance of BPL cards, since there are so many bogus cards. This compounds the difficulty of getting a BPL card.

Actions Taken by PT
Baseline survey: With the support of independent volunteers and PDS Monitoring Committee (PDSMC) members, Paraspara Trust conducted a survey regarding access to PDS in 30 urban slum communities of Bengaluru. 5,000 families from these 30 slum communities were included in the survey.  The survey showed three types of information: details of eligible families, shop owners’ information, and views of interviewers. It revealed that 15% of eligible families (750 out of 5,000) did not have BPL/APL cards, and that shop owners possessed bogus BPL cards at about 10-20% of the total entitlement claims made at their shops. Shop Owners misused these cards to sell commodities in the black market for higher prices.

Focus Group Discussions: PT shared the survey information with the community through 30 focus group discussions. It highlighted the survey findings and explained the problems faced by eligible families. These discussions brought in more information and PT realized that most community members had paid more than INR 500 for their entitlement cards (instead of the stipulated INR 67) and even though had not yet received their cards. One fair price shop had 30 additional bogus BPL cards apart from the 150 legitimate cards allotted to it. In another case, two brothers had a shop license each, but were maintaining only one shop. Eligible families, PDSMC members and PT volunteers communicated the results of the focus group discussions to the Department of Food and Civil Supplies, making four visits to the Department.

Orientation of PDSMC members: PT organized four orientation sessions for PDSMC members to empower them to work towards corruption-free PDS outlets in the community. The results of the survey and the importance of model fair price shops to prevent corruption in PDS were discussed also. 120 PDSMC members participated in these sessions and planned PDSMC-level action plans to prevent corruption in the future, issuing new cards to eligible families. The plans also included provisions for the availability of corruption-free commodities in the fair price shop.

Key Actors: The main actors to exert transparency, and hold service providers accountable are the PDSMC members. They are community volunteers who have stepped forward to fight corruption and devote time and energy to monitor the PDS scheme. PT provided these volunteers with information and training to plan and act locally. At the next higher level, representatives from the PDSMCs try to coordinate efforts with the government officials, other NGOs, and the general public in the Dhanya Hakku Vedike (DHV or Food Rights Forum).

Eligible family members were also identified as key participants. They participated in awareness raising activities to act integer and not pay bribes, thereby preventing and acting against corruption bottom-up. As the ultimate beneficiaries, their role and involvement is vital. Finally, officials from the Department of Food and Civil Supplies play a key role, as they are the ‘receiving end’. In addition to the stakeholders above, PT set out to work directly with the fair price shop owners and their association to better understand the causes of corruption and to elicit their support in cleansing the system. PT and the Right to Food Campaign provide necessary inputs to the program by way of training, information, and facilitation of efforts at grassroots and official levels.

Challenges: The immediate challenge in the program was to deal with informal community leaders who exploit people as middle man. They are the nexus between the officials and eligible families. It proved equally challenging to orient and sensitize government officials and engage them constructively to fight corruption as there are a number of officials who directly benefit from the corrupt practices. Another tough challenge has been the identification of bogus ration cards that are hidden from plain view. Trying to identify fake cards, PDSMC members and PT staff were threatened by middle man and fair price shop owners. Finally, there is a challenge preventing political interference in the system as the huge profits tempt politicians to use their powers to influence and meddle with the service delivery to appropriate funds for cronies or themselves.

Impact and Results Achieved
Notwithstanding the difficult environment, PT obtained excellent results and worked vigorously to overcome the challenges posed:

  • The conducted survey and its results served as a welcome and much needed tool for advocacy.
  • Bribe payments to community leaders and middlemen were reduced by 75%.
  • PT enabled the processing of 240 pending applications of BPL cards to eligible families.
  • 120 PDSMC members work in the community.
  • Officials agreed to check the bogus cards and to engage with the communities.
  • The two brothers agreed to open separate outlets as required by their licenses.
  • PDSMC and DHV members have been sensitized, educated and empowered.
  • PT increased the effective participation of citizens in the Right to Food Campaign

The sustainability of the program relies on the PDSMC and DHV volunteers to check on corruption in their communities and allow citizens to benefit from the laws that are in place, however not enforced and monitored sufficiently by the government agencies responsible. While there is no direct monetary cost involved in running these groups, volunteers have the incentive to come together and act as they themselves benefit from the correct administering of the PDS scheme. The absence of PT will not deter them from continuing their activities they have learned in the short period of one year.  Given the prominence and focus on the issue of corruption at both local but also the national level, the groups promoted through this project will continue to evolve as a movement, perhaps not even limited to the PDS scheme alone.

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Reducing Corruption in Indian Public Services

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: People’s Rural Education Movement (PREM)
YEARS: 2009-2010
THEME: Public Safety Nets

PREM (People’s Rural Education Movement) has been working with the marginalized communities in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for the last two decades. It has immense experience in the field of community mobilization and empowerment especially with tribal and dalit sections of the society. It is here that its experiences and knowledge added to the implementation of the CAC programme in the intervened area. However, it was felt that in spite of the numerous efforts put in by the team; there is still ample room for improvement in the project, therefore the overall achievement rating is 3, i.e. moderately satisfactory.

With regard to the project design it was felt that the goal of the project is very clearly stated in the proposal. It aims at reducing corruption in the delivery of three public services (PDS, NREGA and FRA) through citizen monitoring and further advocating reforms to check the same. The objectives designed to realize the same however, are not very clear (detailed explanation given in point 1 of the completion assessment section). The activities mentioned in the project-planning matrix attached with the proposal do not specifically mention the number of such activities to be conducted, which makes it difficult to monitor their implementation status. Also some of the activities planned are not in coherence with the respective objective. For example, the activities under objective four (annexure 1, project completion report) focus more on awareness generation and education rather than on monitoring PDS.

The implementation performance and results too cannot be said to be completely satisfactory as there are certain gaps that have been identified in the same. Although corrupt practices have been exposed and reduced to some extent due to the efforts of the community, but still more needs to be done on the monitoring and tracking implementation of the provisions of the targeted government schemes. However, the project has done a commendable job in terms of forging alliances with the media, government officials and PRI members at the local level as well as capacitating the two people’s organizations, Palli Vikas and Margdarsi.

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