UNDP Social Protection Schemes


In January 2021, World Bank had projected that COVID-19 could push an additional 119 million to 124 people into extreme poverty with 60% of that population living in South Asia. Indeed, the socially excluded and marginalized sections of people in India have faced the double-impact of COVID-19; it has made poverty worse for them due to loss of livelihoods and has affected the hard-earned gains in social equality and inclusion. A large population from this section of society in India work on relatively low wage jobs in states outside their home states, thus termed as “interstate migrants”. These migrants form part of India’s large informal workforce, which formed 75 per cent of the 122 million jobs lost during COVID-19. Women, as a distinct category, faced an additional household burden and increased domestic violence as reported by India’s National Commission for Women. 

This assumes significance for Change Alliance as a social impact consultancy organisation in India, as working with the socio-economically marginalized population is a stated goal of Change Alliance.  We have a dedicated vertical of Gender, Diversity and Inclusion with focus and thrust on activities directly benefitting the population from these strata of society.  We conducted two critical surveys for UNDP focused on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on migrant workers in Jharkhand which aided their programming priorities for India.  

Shortly thereafter, in October 2020 UNDP signed up with Changes Alliance for a project on creating awareness and access to social protection in 20 blocks of six districts in Jharkhand, one of the least developed states in India and home to a large population of interstate migrants. The project has its primary thrust on delivery and access of social protection schemes to poor and vulnerable households in the identified districts and blocks in Jharkhand. The project started in October 2020 and completed in July 2021. The project was implemented in partnership with six local civil society organisations Partnering Hope into Action (PHIA) Foundation, HOPE, ASRA, Manthan Yuva Sansthan, Arouse and Samvad. 

About the Project

The project has a strong convergence approach, thereby bringing all the key actors, government departments and functionaries, village governance structure (Gram Panchayat) and civil society organisations, to close the gaps in reach of government programmes to the target beneficiaries. In close partnership with our associate organisation, Phia Foundation, we developed a comprehensive system of identification of eligible beneficiaries, created information hubs (migration information centres) and platforms for convergence between stakeholders, and removed barriers to access between communities and government through close community level interventions.  In the process, we have also strengthened the capacities of local civil society partners and voluntary networks.

The Key objectives of the project was to:

  • Strengthen community access to Social Protection benefits 
  • Strengthen Governance Institutions to deliver social protection and implementation of preventative measures for COVID-19 response

Processes undertaken

The project was led by an apex Project Advisory Committee, comprising Social Protection Specialist, Stakeholder Expert, M& E expert, Project Lead and Documentation & Communication Officer. The implementation was carried out at the district level, District Coordinators and Block Coordinators were engaged with active guidance and supervision by the partner CSO.  In 6 districts of Jharkhand 40 panchayats covering 239 villages were identified for this intervention. Change Alliance organised internal planning meeting to design and develop roll out plan of the project. It also organised several meetings with consortium partner and implementing CSOs. A mapping of central government and Jharkhand State’s schemes on social protection was carried out both for COVID-19 and other schemes for migrant workers, and the wider community. Multiple trainings were organised for the district coordinators and cluster coordinators (on training of trainers – ToT) basis which continued with fortnightly trainings and review meetings. In order to facilitate the Training of the team a participatory training module was developed based on the combination of knowledge-based and activity-oriented sessions to improve understanding on Social Protection and COVID-19 pandemic. Various tools and processes were adopted for filing on social protection schemes.

The major deliverables under the project are as follows: 

  • Identification of vulnerable individuals and households to facilitate access to social support and entitlements in priority rural areas, and facilitating linkages with the respective government administrative departments, through partnerships with civil society organisations (CSO) and voluntary networks.
  • Extending technical support to accelerate implementation of public works through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and expansion of registration of community to access job cards, and facilitation of immediate employment opportunities under the Scheme.
  • Capacity building of frontline functionaries and CSOs responding to the pandemic. 

The project has a strong convergence approach, thereby bringing all the key actors together to close the gaps in delivery of benefits. In order to meet the objectives of the project we addressed three major barriers:

    1. Identification of beneficiaries 
      • The mechanism of tracking migrants for accessing schemes was practically non-existent. 
      • The project supported Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) in consolidating data in six districts to track the migrants.
    2. Building awareness about schemes and entitlements 
      • Information about schemes as well as their applications were provided through Entitlement Information Hubs formed in 40 Gram Panchayats of 20 blocks and 6 districts. This was also used as migrant information centre.
      • 15 convergence platforms, meant to bring PRIs, block and district functionaries together, were created in 15 blocks to bridge gaps in delivery
    3. Remove constraints of access
      • Disillusioned communities had lost faith in the system due to past disappointing experiences while trying to access their entitlements. On the other hand, the administrative reach to the beneficiaries had also been restricted. This was due to lack of ineffective administrative coordination between districts, blocks and villages. 
      • The project created systems to identify the beneficiaries, facilitated linkages with the respective government administrative departments, registration of community to access job cards, extended technical support to accelerate implementation of public works through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), and immediate employment opportunities under the Scheme.
      • Direct assistance was provided in gathering the relevant documents and filing the papers and procedures to access them

Major Findings and Impact

Overall, more than 100,000 beneficiaries were reached through our programme. More than Indian Rupees 600 million worth of financial linkages established, with a cash benefit of 16 million Rupees and insurance benefit of 50 million Rupees

  • 1,256 community mobilisers (65% women and 92% from socially excluded communities, and in all, 80% from scheduled tribes) were trained to run the awareness programme with the community members on preventive measure of COVID-19 and Social Protection schemes especially job under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), linkage to pension schemes and health schemes. 
  • 105,500 beneficiaries (including migrants, marginalised communities and particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG) are provided with information on accessing social protection schemes 
  • 30,000 beneficiaries are linked with at least one of social protection benefit
  • 101,36 self-help groups, 1,482 voluntary organisations and 1,168 cluster level federations’ members are trained on government schemes and entitlements
  • 6,825 functionaries of Panchayat Raj/ local governance Institutions, frontline workers and individual members of self-help groups trained on social protection schemes and COVID-19 response
  • 40 Panchayat Level Community Assistance Resource Centre at Gram Panchayat level formed
  • 20 convergence platforms formed at block level with district and block administration, Panchayat Raj Institutions, civil society organisations and community based organisations 
  • Supported Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) with database maintenance of 6,334 migrant and local workers. 
  • 100% population of four villages (two in Lohardaga, one in Simdega and one in Gumla district) covered for GEET public app training which could help villagers to get details of schemes for which they are eligible and also can support surrounding population on awareness of social protection schemes and its procedures to get access