Impact of NOAPS

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Evaluations of NOAPS have shown the scheme is functioning well in terms

of targeting and implementation without corruption and interference.

The program has largely reached scheduled populations and women; the

coverage of women was 40 per cent to 60 per cent across the states. In

evaluations done of project benefi ciaries, a third of benefi ciaries were found

to be neglected by their family or living alone, another third were found to

have a dependent (mostly a spouse), and did not have a regular source of

income in the remaining cases.

The delivery mechanisms for NOAPS benefi ts also appear to be functioning

well. For example, benefi ts are transferred directly to benefi ciaries through

cheques, postal money orders or cash payments in public meetings. A review

by IMI (2001) in Orissa found this process worked well with cash payments

made by village workers in the presence of the village head (Sarpanch) at

a fi xed time each month.

The implementation problems of NOAPS are primarily bureaucratic.

First, since many states had pension schemes before the introduction of

NOAPS, the implementation of NOAPS is under different agencies across

the states. Thus, although the Ministry of Rural Development is the executing

agency at the center, the agencies at the state level may be departments of

labor, social welfare, or health. These state departments have little or no

interaction with the district rural development agencies, nor do they have any

role in the fl ow of funds that are transferred directly from the center to these

agencies. Consequently, state implementing agencies have little ownership in

NOAPS. There are too many entities involved in implementation without

clear demarcation of responsibilities (ORG, 1998). Another outcome of this

is irregular timing of payments to benefi ciaries, which can be problematic

if the recipients are severely liquidity constrained.

Further, given that birth certifi cates are still issued only to a small part

of the population, documenting proof of age is an extremely cumbersome

and arbitrary process. The registration procedure requires several proofs and

certifi cates. This problem applies even more strongly to proving a destitute

status, since criteria for identifying the destitute are not clear and different

states follow their own norms. As a consequence, potential applicants have

to undergo substantial transaction costs in dealing with the bureaucracy

in the application process. The fact that the size of the pot available is so

small relative to potential demand makes the problem of red-tape worse

for applicants.

In sum, therefore, NOAPS is a welcome contrast from the typical

targeting programs in India, actually transferring its modest benefi ts in

entirety to intended benefi ciaries, with little evidence of leakage to ineligible

applicants. The absence of corruption can be related to the fact that the

amounts involved are small and benefi ts may be transferred directly either

into accounts of the benefi ciaries or in cash. At the same time, given its

modest benefi ts and delivery mechanism, resulting in minimal leakage, the

scheme is unlikely to attract political backing, and grow in size.

Drought Prone Areas Program (DPAP)

The DPAP is another small but relatively more successful targeting activity in

India, aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of drought on the production

of crops and livestock. It also encourages restoration of an ecological

balance and seeks to improve the economic and social conditions of the

poor and disadvantaged sections of the rural community. Initiated like many

other targeting programs in the early 1970s, the DPAP started as a Rural

Works Program in 1970–71, aimed at creating assets to reduce severity of

drought wherever it occurred, and to provide employment in drought prone

areas. The Rural Works Program became the DPAP in 1973–74. Unlike

other targeting, the program has retained its identity over time, though it

was restructured in 1986–87 to focus more explicitly on a narrower objective:

creating long-term assets aimed at drought prevention.

The program was supplemented by guidelines issued in 1994 that were

intended for all watershed programs implemented by the government,

but were taken up primarily by the Ministry of Rural Development in

its schemes. These guidelines laid special emphasis on active mobilization

and participation of stakeholders in the program, including planning,

implementation and subsequent management of assets created. Thus,

the DPAP appears to be one of the few programs where evaluations have

actually led to ‘enlightened’ policy design (Nayak et al., 2002).

Under the DPAP, benefi ciaries’ villages are selected by district rural

development agencies at the district level. User groups undertake area

development by planning and implementing projects on a watershed

basis through watershed associations and committees constituted from

among themselves. Their efforts are facilitated at the district level by the

development agencies, who provide funds and technical assistance. A project

implementation agency, constituted by government, non-government or

a private commercial entity and having requisite technical and social

organizational skills, works with the watershed committee to prioritize,

sequence and implement the rehabilitation over a five-year period.

Funds are released directly to the district rural development agencies to

sanction projects and release funds to watershed committees and project

implementation agencies.