MGNREGA works and their impacts: A Rapid assessment in Maharashtra

MGNREGA works and their impacts: A Rapid assessment in Maharashtra

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was notified on September 5, 2005 and implemented in three phases covering all districts over time. Although the focus is on augmenting wage employment, it is ambitious in scope and aims to accomplish a number of things. Amongst other things, the Act envisaged that the works undertaken as part of the programme would strengthen natural resource management and address causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation and soil erosion, thereby encouraging sustainable development.

This paper presents the results of a survey of over 4100 works created under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and over 4800 randomly selected users across 100 villages in 20 districts in Maharashtra. It has two goals: the first was to verify the existence of the assets and the second was to elicit user perceptions of the problems and benefits they associate with the work.

The survey indicates that 87% of the works exist and function and over 75% of them are directly or indirectly related to agriculture. A bulk of the rest constitutes rural roads that connect habitations to farms and provides access to agricultural markets. The study also finds that 92% of the randomly selected users paper that their main occupation is farming; half of them are small and marginal farmers, owning less than 1.6 hectares of land. An overwhelming 90% of respondents considered the works very useful or somewhat useful; only 8% felt the works were useless. There is some evidence that where people feel that have played a part in deciding the type of work, these are more likely to be ranked as useful and well-maintained. Likewise, works on private lands tend to score better in terms of perceived usefulness and in terms of present condition. Overall it appears that the works are supportive of agriculture and of small and marginal farmers. There is however scope to improve the design of assets and to have a more inclusive process of work selection.

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