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Towards a Poverty Free Panchayat


Poverty has multiple dimensions Addressing poverty is one of the toughest challenges in this world. Poverty is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. There are several economic, social, gender and other deprivations contributing to poverty. The problems of poverty and unemployment are inter-linked and need a concrete action plan. In order to ensure sustainable employment and eradicate poverty, we need to invest in human capital. Towards this investment we need to make sure that the following are available to citizens:

  1. Education - we need to ensure that all children go to school and do not drop out of school. This in turn means ensuring that basic facilities such as teachers, books, even roads and toilets in schools are present and functioning in the Gram Panchayat (GP).
  2. Health - Ill health is a drain on resources. Loss of wages and related medical expenses can easily turn a prosperous family into destitute.
  3. Housing, sanitation, social protection - which are all basic services that impact health, well-being and ultimately poverty.
  4. Opportunities for employment – creation of labour banks, skilling farmers on mechanization can all contribute towards creating employment opportunities.
  5. Enabling environment for thrift and credit, micro finance, opening of bank accounts and linkages with banks - this will make financing a micro enterprise easier within a short span of time. A critical outcome may be the disappearance of money lenders from the village. This will have very significant impact on reducing rural poverty.
  6. Improving land productivity - this would ensure availability of safe and nutritious food, which will in turn improve health and income of the poor.

Even if some or all of the above are made available, there would still be outliers. A survey for identifying vulnerable families - SC, ST, women headed, members with physically and mentally challenged, chronically ill or bedridden persons. Factors leading to their poverty may be different and this requires personalized approaches.

Why Panchayats?

As per the 11th Schedule of the 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India, Poverty alleviation programmes, social welfare (including welfare of the handicapped and mentally retarded), welfare of the weaker sections and of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are all among the 29 subjects transferred to the Panchayats. There are also many other areas in which Panchayats have a role and which have the potential of contributing to the eradication of poverty.

For poverty alleviation Gram Panchayats can work to:

FACILITATE Access to social protection measures and schemes,
Efficient implementation of MGNREGS
Income generation through skills training,entrepreneurship development, employment, building Self-Help Groups, access to financial services including microfinance, skill upgradation in agriculture and animal husbandry
Improvement in land productivity  -irrigation, better seeds, bio-fertilizers, identification of appropriate new technologies
Access to basic services - housing, water, sanitation, electricity, fuel, education, mid-day meals in schools
UNDERTAKE THROUGH PEOPLE’S PARTICIPATION Needs assessment for skills and employment
Identification of poor, destitute and those critically vulnerable to shocks and disasters.
Planning for access to, availability of and quality improvement in social services.
Preparation/adoption of operational guidelines for care and protection of destitute and vulnerable people.
Convergence of funds and programmes under Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).

How do we begin to plan for eradicating poverty in the Gram Panchayat?


What can our Gram Panchayat focus on while planning for eradicating poverty?

  • Reduce poverty and vulnerability by decreasing people’s exposure to social and economic risks, such as lack of employment, inadequate food, ill health and disability and building their capacity to manage these risks.
  • Ensure that all people, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have access to basic services and facilities, natural resources, economic and financial services .
  • Ensure social care and social security network for all, especially for the poor and the vulnerable .

How do we set targets to achieve the goals?

If these are our goals, what are the specific things we should plan to achieve and by when? Can our Gram Panchayat plan for some of the following?


What can a Gram Panchayat Do – the Action Points

  • Take steps to create an in depth understanding of the term ‘poverty’ among the Panchayat committee and other community volunteers.
  • Disseminate information about various schemes for poor and vulnerable through ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and school teachers.
  • Facilitate SHG formation, their hand holding and training.
  • Identify the poor through validation of the list of people living with multiple deprivations as per socio-economic caste census data.
  • Develop criteria for identification of the poor,destitute and vulnerable.
  • Initiate participatory surveys for their identification and need assessment.
  • Ensure transparency in the selection process/providing benefits
  • Set the goals and targets for your Gram Panchayat.
  • Develop a comprehensive programme based on need assessment, goals and targets.
  • Converge different agencies, their programmes and schemes .and community organizations which can support the Gram Panchayat.
  • Facilitate registration in PDS.
  • Develop a monitoring mechanism for the actions.

Resources to look for

Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana (DAY-NRLM)
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY)
State Poverty Eradication Missions
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
Pradhan MantriAwasYojana (PMAY)
Public Distribution System(PDS)
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana
Other state and central schemes

People to support

Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations, literacy workers, ASHAs, teachers, National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) Community Resource Persons (CRPs), Anganwadi workers, Rozgar sevaks.

Here is an example

Possible steps to be followed if the Gram Panchayat decides to prepare a plan for the care and rehabilitation of destitute.

  • Sensitization of SHGs regarding the programme.
  • Developing indicators for the preliminary identification of destitute and vulnerable families.
  • Selection and training of volunteers for participatory survey.
  • Participatory survey and identification of the poor, destitute and critically vulnerable.
  • Developing second set of indicators for selecting the most eligible.
  • Selecting the most eligible/needy using the developed indicators
  • Publishing the list of selected persons in the Gram Sabha.
  • Selecting volunteers to do case studies of risk houses and their training.
  • Case study and need assessment of each individual/family in different sectors like housing, water supply, sanitation, electricity, food, medical care, income, education of children, social security, counseling etc.
  • Project development for each individual.
  • Presentation of these reports in Gram Sabha as situational analysis.
  • Consolidation of individual projects to a common project.
  • Include it in Gram Panchayat Development Plan.
  • Ensure convergence of funds and programmes.
  • Ensure that the Federation of SHGs at the Panchayat level is monitoring the programme.

How is this exercise linked to Sustainable Development Goals?

Sustainable Development Goal 1 - End Poverty in all its forms everywhere

The Universal Targets

  • Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.
  • By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including micro finance.
  • By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

Now look at the goals and targets set by your Gram Panchayat - you are contributing to the Global goal and targets to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, implement social protection systems and measures for all, particularly poor and the vulnerable

Source : Handbook on Sustainable Development Goals and Gram Panchayats

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