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India - Rural Decentralization and Participatory Planning for Poverty Reduction Project in Chattisgarh: Impacts and Lessons Learnt from Rajnandgaon District

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Organization(s): Samarthan - Centre for Development Support

Country(ies): India

Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths

In a Nutshell:
Samarthan, Government of Chhattisgarh and UNDP collaboratively implemented the project on rural decentralisation, which focused on building capacities of the panchayats for decentralised planning. The case is on the impact of the interventions

The Story:
The project “Rural Decentralization and Participatory Planning for Poverty Reduction” is a joint initiative of Planning Commission and UNDP. The Government of Chhattisgarh and Samarthan are implementing the project in the sampled locale i.e. Dongargaon block of Rajnandgaon district and Bastar Block of Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. The project was initiated in June 2005 initially to pilot in 23 Panchayats out of 63 Panchayats of Dongargaon block and 25 Panchayats out of 63 Panchayats of Bastar block. In January, after the Steering Committee meeting, the coverage of the project was expanded to the whole of the block.

The overall objective of the project is to provide catalytic support in the backward districts and create an enabling environment for decentralization at the State level and to strengthen endowment of the local government with sufficient autonomy and resources to respond to local needs. The project is based on the philosophy of decentralization, which sees decentralization as a vital means to achieve greater impact in combating poverty, as decentralized Governments are likely to be closer and responsive to the needs of the poor. It aims to strengthen devolution of powers through constitutionally mandated bodies with an objective to reduce poverty through an empowerment strategy that creates space for people to effectively participate in the decision making processes. The document primarily deals with the experiences of the project emerging from the project interventions in Dongargaon Block of Rajnangaon district.

Results and Critical Factors:
Implementation of priority development needs that emerged Micro planning has brought in development of physical and social infrastructure from the perspective of the citizens. Many development works that emerged from the micro plans were implemented by the facilitation of the project. The implementation of people’s plan boosted the morale of the village Panchayat and the village assembly since they felt that they were central in the development process.

Transparency and accountability in Panchayats—The project has brought in transparency and accountability. The campaigns on right to information, social audit, public hearings etc have taught a lesson that transparency was needed in the Panchayat and in any work taken by them. Social audit was conducted on all NREGA related work in Panchayats. The muster roll and the site facilities were inspected. This was the first time that any social audit had happened in Panchayats

Control over Panchayat representatives – The true success of decentralization comes when people can begin to hold representatives accountable and take action when the representatives ignore or trample the rights of citizens. In some cases the Gram Sabha passed strictures against the Panchayat representatives and succeeded in removing them from their positions.

Name of Primary Contact Person: Yogesh Kumar

Title of Primary Contact Person: Executive Director

City: Bhopal

File: India_Rural Decentralization.doc



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