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Social protection helps to reduce poverty Madhya Pradesh is one of the poorest Indian states, with a per capita income 75% of the national average. Out of a population of around 60 million, threequarters live in rural areas. More than a third of the rural population lives below the poverty line and Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are among the most marginalised and vulnerable. Poverty-stricken households have nowhere to go when there are emergencies such as illnesses, crop failure or dying livestock. Life events such as births, marriages and deaths can also tip households into even deeper poverty. If households have assets in the form of chickens or goats, they can be sold, but households often borrow money which they cannot repay and find themselves living in bondage to moneylenders. Social protection1, hand-in-hand with other measures to improve livelihoods, addresses chronic poverty and vulnerability. MPRLP's approach to social protection is to make the poor aware of their entitlements, such as old age pensions, under existing government schemes and, at the same time, encourage Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) to direct more resources to the poorest.

Photo: © MPRLP/Sandeep Khanwalkar

“Social protection addresses chronic poverty”

The way ahead 

Generating awareness and simplifying access There are a large number of government schemes for social insurance, social assistance and workplace protection. However, in spite of persistent Government efforts in the remote areas, very few of the poor know what they are entitled to or how they can access benefits.

Role of the Gram Sabhas MPRLP works through Gram Sabhas to improve people's understanding of their entitlements and their ability to demand their rights to such benefits as old-age and widows' pensions and food subsidies. The first step was to

1 Social protection is often known as livelihood protection. One definition is that it should "encompass a set of public actions – carried out by the state or privately – that address risk, vulnerability and chronic poverty".

Strengthen knowledge and understanding among all Sarpanches, Panches, Sachives and livelihood promoters of key government schemes that support social protection and reduce vulnerability to all. Create awareness of government social-protection schemes in villages. Facilitate Gram Sabhas' work with government departments to get basic social services and benefits for eligible villagers. Enhance Gram Sabhas' capacity to develop microplans that focus on the poor. Work closely with self-help groups to strengthen and promote social protection schemes. Work closely with government departments to deliver adequate services.


draw up a list of the most relevant schemes; now, MPRLP is helping Gram Sabhas understand how the schemes work and how they can help the poor access benefits. Gram Sabhas are not always attuned to the needs of the poor, the socially deprived, the physically and mentally handicapped, widows and the old when deciding community priorities. MPRLP encourages Gram Sabhas to identify the poor and take their needs into consideration when developing village micro-plans and deciding who should get grants from Gram Kosh funds.

Village relief funds 3205 village emergency funds have been set up in project villages. In

Dancing in one of the MPRLP villages. Photo: © MPRLP/Sandeep Khanwalkar

emergencies, villagers can borrow from these funds and repay on agreed terms. The very poor are exempt from repayment, and those who are better off often make voluntary contributions. These schemes work well because, in rural tribal settings, there is no question about which villagers are extremely poor.

Achievements 

Safeguarding assets Microenterprises can provide social protection because they generate assets on which households can draw. To guard these assets, MPRLP encourages entrepreneurs to form selfhelp groups to help develop their enterprises and provide ways of saving and borrowing small sums. The groups help strengthen members' bargaining position with employers and support members when they suffer minor household shocks. The groups can also establish social insurance schemes such as crop insurance, pricestabilisation funds and personal insurance against sickness, accident or death. Membership of a self-help group reduces risk and vulnerability, as resources do not have to be diverted away from productive activity when households experience shocks or stress.

 

MPRLP has developed innovative legal literacy tools to help build awareness in tribal communities of social protection rights and entitlements. 92,577 poor and very poor households are covered by social protection schemes. 20,783 very poor families and 94,570 poor families have received help through Gram Sabhas. Two-thirds of Gram Kosh (community funds) are allocated to the poor and very poor. 3205 emergency funds and 265 grain banks have helped more than 30,000 households. Migration has fallen by 36%. Eight villages have created Mata Ki Rasoi (community kitchens) to feed the destitute.

Contact Telephone: +91-(0)755-2766812, 814, 815 Fax: +91-(0)755-2766818 Email: Website: MPRLP is a Government of Madhya Pradesh initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This publication does not necessarily represent the views of the Department for International Development.

“3205 village emergency funds have been set up”

MPRLP Update series no.6: Social protection  

Madhya Pradesh is one of the poorest Indian states, with a per capita income 75% of the national average. Poverty-stricken households have n...

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