Tuesday, January 7, 2014


It is very essential for monitoring and evaluation to have solid data. There are thousands of functioning SHGs in the country. NRLM has taken step for transparency through data collection about SHG. MIS of NRLM is hugely important for tracking effectiveness of programs that would serve in a long way to establishing accountability at each level.

ICDS is already working with SHG movement in Odisha with Mission Shakti since 2003. Through validation and gradation of SHG in December 2012, Panchayati Raj Department was able to verify total number of SHG in the Odisha. Still, there was no concrete record of name of all SHG members. Name of President and Secretary can only be obtained through all given data. I formed a template as required for MIS and termed this E-NRLM format. Our OLM team at Bhanjanagar and Surada block of Ganjam district used Aagan Wadi Workers (AWWs) for collecting data about SHG.

Data collection exercise is a tough thing in India. Education of the most of the AWWs varies mostly from class 7-12 range. They are overloaded with core responsibilities and other auxiliary works. Other hurdles in data capture is Demand of Information in English Language. This is a huge problem at all India level as the necessary level of English is not achieved by  AWWs, GRS or any other extension staff. If we collect data in the regional language, it will be very tough for translating them in English for data operator sitting at block level. One more precaution should be taken while collecting data at rural level. Agriculture season shouldn't be selected for the exercise as women members are busy in all activities. That will add burden to AWWs and make process more tedious.

Gathered information is static in nature. We need to re-validate all old SHGs each year for any change in members, amount of savings and bank linkage history. There is need to colled basic information also need about new SHGs formed each year. There will be upcoming need to update BPL(Below Poverty Line) data related to SHGs in near future. Currently, 1997 BPL census data is used in Odisha for any scheme. 2011 BPL data will be soon made public and must be incorporated soon.  Why this is important ? Each government schemes has guidelines to select beneficiary mostly on the basis of either SC/ST or BPL card per household. Hence, a more transparent way will emerge with the help of this MIS.With each opening of bank branches (public and private) in the locality, they should be readily integrated in MIS data.

In a review meeting, we were battered by a senior officer for not taking ownership of the mission in data collection exercise. This task was not possible without having a single field staff dedicated for NRLM at our disposal till December 2013. And, nobody remembers all big talks of convergence of various government agencies! I was working at Balangir district where few villages/GPs name were missing from MIS. We readily took help from MGNREGS MIS software. Now, that is a fine example of convergence. We are collecting BPL card number instead of just writing yes or no in BPL column for e-nrlm. That is ensuring much transparency in the system. It is plan to do this data collection exercise each year conjoint with re-assessment schedule of all SHG. That will ensure much light on proper SHG health.

Social investment is not being done just be formation of SHG and quality is not being maintained as government is only chasing numbers. Our huge ignorance of how good or bad SHG works is barrier to their development. MIS is a tool that will be give quantitative answers. There is still need of huge qualitative data to explain the numbers. NRLM need rigorous and reliable information of impact assessment studies, social audit, panel studies etc. Open data-Base is a new kind of 'public good' that can be generated through this mission. With this huge amount of publicly available data disseminated to policymakers, industry, bankers, researchers, Academia, students and others can give more understanding social reality.

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