November 16, 2012

2012: Highlight # 42

Keynes suggested that employing people to dig and then fill holes might be beneficial for the economy in the short-run. Is MGNREGA doing the same; or can it do more? Verma and Shah explore...

Beyond Digging and Filling Holes

Lessons from case studies of best-performing MGNREGA water assets

Shilp Verma and Tushaar Shah

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Program is among the world’s largest employment generation programs. But it is also among the world’s largest water security programs, investing some US$ 3 billion annually in constructing, repairing, renovating rural water structures, public and private. One persistent concern is that even if the Program enhances incomes and livelihoods of the poor, the water structures it creates or improves may be neither useful nor productive nor durable. This Highlight synthesizes over 140 case studies of MGNREGA water structures that were useful, productive and durable. It then teases out 8 lessons which, if internalized in program administration, can enhance its ‘strike rate’ in delivering useful, productive and durable rural water infrastructure besides, of course, providing wage employment to the needy.

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