UNDP in India: Results from 2010

31 Dec 2010


The UNDP India Annual Report for 2010 highlights results of UNDP’s partnership with the Government of India and other stakeholders across our five programme areas-poverty reduction, democratic governance, energy and environment, crisis prevention and recovery, and HIV and development.

India’s economic growth continues to remain an impressive achievement. Absolute numbers of the poor have declined and there has been a marked improvement in several social indicators. Government data suggests the country is well on target to achieving universal primary education, reducing gender disparities in primary and secondary education, reversing the incidence of HIV/AIDS and environmental losses. The implementation of several rights-based legislation frameworks have emerged as the cornerstone of poverty reduction strategies and have generated nation-wide debate on governance challenges. 2010 was a memorable year for champions of women’s rights, with Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament passing legislation to reserve 33 percent seats for women in Parliament.

However, work remains to be done and UNDP continues to be a committed partner of the Government of India in fulfilling its objective of inclusive growth. In doing so, our focus has been on the seven priority states outlined by the UNDAF that are home to India’s poorest – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Along with Uttarakhand, these states account for 64 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Across India, multi-dimensional poverty continues to rise. Recent government data on poverty based on new methodologies of estimation, has revised poverty upwards and rural poverty has also risen significantly.1 Further, poverty continues to remain concentrated in specific regions and social groups. Poverty levels are also much higher among people belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs)2 who comprise half of the poor and deprived households.

The mid-term review of the UNDP Country Programme (2008-12) in partnership with government counterparts, found progress well on track and outcomes achievable within the programme period. The review highlighted several key achievements – mainstreaming of accountability and transparency in national poverty reduction programmes; designing and implementing pilots to leverage change in national schemes; and ensuring the needs of the most marginalised are reflected in national policies.

UNDP’s approach in India has been to develop and sustain strategic partnerships that find innovative solutions to address gaps on both the demand and supply side of development processes. Prototypes that demonstrate new ways of addressing persistent disparities have empowered communities to improve access to basic entitlements – whether in housing and employment under government schemes or in greater political voice. In 2010, a reconstruction process in Bihar that empowered home owners and communities to drive the process of rebuilding homes was scaled up by the state government to rebuild 100,000 homes destroyed by the Kosi floods of 2008. A biometric prototype that empowers workers employed as part of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to directly access information on their entitlements is now the guiding force behind a national strategy on biometrics aimed at greater transparency in governance of the world’s largest cash-for-work scheme. For the first time ever, women in eastern Uttar Pradesh led the way in local elections as a result of pre-election voter awareness efforts in the area.

Another approach of UNDP has been to bring diverse stakeholders, particularly from the less heard in civil society to the forefront. Sustained advocacy, for example, on behalf of the transgender community has resulted in greater recognition of their specific needs in planning and legal processes. Transgenders can now access free legal aid from the government, and with UNDP support, the community provided policy inputs to the 12th Five-Year planning process.

One of the most significant trends in UNDP’s support to the Government of India over the past many decades has been a stronger collaboration on human development, its application in planning and analysing deprivation across the states. A recent evaluation points to the influence of this approach at almost all levels of government.

The task in the years ahead is to strengthen the human development approach, and to examine the structural and institutional underpinnings of inclusion and exclusion.

The UNDP India Annual Report for 2010 highlights some of these results across our five programme areas - poverty reduction, democratic governance, energy and environment, crisis prevention and recovery and HIV and development. In doing so, our focus is both on prototypes that offer the possibilities of change and support that has empowered the poor and marginalised to influence policy making processes across the country.

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