The Future of DFID’s Programme in India

Written evidence submitted by Christian Aid

1. Introduction

1.1 Christian Aid is a Christian organisation that insists the world can and must be swiftly changed to one where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. We work globally in over 40 countries for profound change that eradicates the causes of poverty, striving to achieve equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality. We are part of a wider movement for social justice. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root causes.

1.2 Christian Aid has worked in India for more than 50 years. Working through our partners, we strive to tackle the country’s growing inequality and its human cost. Our programmes focus on secure livelihoods and accountable governance and target discrimination against Dalits, Adivasis, women and other excluded vulnerable communities [1] .

1.3 We welcome the opportunity to provide written evidence to the International Development Select Committee on the Department for International Development’s programme in India. We have focused this submission primarily on question one: whether DFID’s programme in India has had a significant effect on reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs at national and state levels, with a few additional points covered. We have provided specific recommendations for action for DFID’s programme in India. We are happy to provide further evidence on any of the subjects covered in this submission via Melanie Ward, Senior UK Political Advisor on or 020 7523 2467.

2. The role of the DFID in reducing poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals in India

2.1 There has been much public discourse recently on the future of UK aid to India. UK politicians, the media and parts of the general public have questioned the continued relevance of an aid programme in a country with high rates of economic growth, and the Indian Finance Minister has been quoted as telling parliament that India has no need for UK aid.

2.2 Despite rapid economic growth over the last several years, a third of the world’s poor live in India. India is currently ranked 119th among 169 countries in the 2010 Human Development Index (HDI) [2] , well below other emerging economies such as Brazil and China. Higher national income levels can be associated with a reduction in the number of people living in poverty in a country. However the relationship between income poverty and growth is uncertain and growth alone does not address inequality automatically [3] . India is a clear example of this.

2.3 The new Oxford University and UNDP Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) uses indicators covering three aspects of poverty (education, health and living standard) to capture the extent and nature of poverty at the household level. It shows that 55% of the population, approximately 643 million people, suffer multiple deprivations. It further shows that there are more poor people in eight states in India than in the 26 poorest sub-Saharan African countries. 421 million people live in poverty in the eight states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which is more than the 410 million people living in those African countries combined. When the vast Indian state of Madhya Pradesh which has a population of 70 million was compared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the two were found to have nearly identical levels of poverty [4] . The MPI exposes the intensity and incidence of multidimensional poverty in South Asia as greater than any other region in the world.

2.4 ‘Horizontal’ inequalities which exist between social groups can contribute directly to poverty. Particular groups may be systematically excluded and according to DFID, this social exclusion "inhibits people from interacting freely and productively with others and blocks their full participation in the economic, social, and political life of the community" [5] . In India, the exclusion of certain groups, such as Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and people living with disabilities has resulted in high degrees of poverty amongst these groups. The 2010 MPI breaks down poverty across four social groups in India. It shows that 81.4% of Adivasis and 65.8% of Dalits are multi-dimensionally poor, compared with 33.3% of the general population [6] .

2.5 In spite of tremendous economic growth in India, gender disparities continue to be a major concern. Alongside social patterns of poverty, high levels of disparities in income, literacy, opportunities and discrimination continue to marginalise women. Women from socially excluded communities such as Dalit women face the worst forms of discrimination and exploitation due to their gender and social identity.

2.6 The data available on poverty among various social groups shows that social exclusion reinforces vulnerability and the vicious cycle of poverty. The high concentration of poverty among marginalised and socially excluded communities indicates that poverty in India cannot be eradicated without addressing the structural inequalities of social exclusion. For example, Dalit women, forced to work as manual scavengers [7] because of their caste, cannot come out of poverty without dignified livelihood alternatives.

2.7 The growing influence of the Maoist movement in India reflects growing concern on the failure of governance and the increasing disparity amongst social groups. This growing insecurity is a national security threat and further highlights the need for the Government of India to prioritise strong policy on social exclusion.

2.8 Keeping in view the magnitude and deeper social and structural dimensions of poverty in India, DFID has a strong role to play in working alongside the Government of India and civil society to tackle poverty. Christian Aid sees a very strong argument for continued, targeted UK aid to India, focused on the poorest states and communities, and for robust UK Government engagement with India’s Government about the inequalities that cause and characterise poverty there. DFID should work closely with the Government of India to strengthen the effective delivery of rights and entitlements through continued funding, technical support, skills and knowledge.

3. DFID India’s role in reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs through addressing social exclusion

3.1 Christian Aid strongly commends the ongoing commitment to social exclusion within the DFID India programme. This focus has been made possible by changes within India’s national policy context as well as strong internal commitment within DFID India. The Government of India’s Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) provides the framework within which DFID and other donors work. Concepts of social exclusion are at the core of the plan which includes a chapter on social justice and vulnerable groups [8] .

3.2 A 2006 evaluation of DFID’s programme in India highlighted that DFID India has consistently been ambitious in its efforts to target aid to the poorest. It states "the degree of commitment to poverty reduction, and the emphasis on bringing to bear the themes of gender, inequality and social exclusion in the design of all projects, sets DFID India apart from other donors" [9] . Similarly, an evaluation of DFID’s work on social exclusion highlighted that there is good practice consideration of social exclusion at a programme level in the DFID India programme [10] . This very much echoes Christian Aid’s experience of working with DFID and socially excluded communities in India. DFID should:

· Build upon current good practice to develop more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the structural causes and processes which lead to exclusion.

· Integrate social exclusion into all DFID India programmes, beyond just those of civil society.

· Conduct internal capacity building to build consensus and understanding throughout the DFID India office on social exclusion.

· Ensure the DFID team in India is socially diverse and fully inclusive and representative.

3.3 Gender equality is a cross cutting objective for the DFID India programme and a core part of its social exclusion agenda. DFID should develop greater understanding of the way in which gender discrimination intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as ethnicity and caste to further compound the inequality of access, opportunity and empowerment which leads to multiple discrimination. DFID should further assess the way in which gender and other social exclusion issues such as caste, ethnicity and disability intersect and the impact of this on programme delivery and impact.

3.4 Global trends saw DFID’s spotlight on the MDGs narrow the focus of their gender equality policy to social sectors such as girls’ education and maternal health in the past, with less attention given to gender in areas such as economic opportunities and decision-making [11] . A large majority of current DFID funded projects in India remain focused on social sectors with significant funding given to maternal, neonatal and urban primary health, education and sustainable livelihoods programmes amongst others. DFID should do more to promote women’s involvement in decision-making processes nationally and support all efforts to strengthen the position of locally elected women. In addition, DFID should support new approaches such as sponsoring women in management roles in NGOs, in the private sector and in government.

3.5 DFID’s Social Exclusion Policy Paper ‘Tackling Poverty through Social Exclusion’ (2005) guides its global policy on social exclusion and gives an extremely useful and nuanced understanding of issues around social exclusion. This was developed in response to the growing recognition of the role of social exclusion in undermining poverty initiatives and a growing body of evidence from South Asia. We understand that the policy is currently due to be reviewed and it is important that DFID take forward the key findings of the 2010 Social Exclusion Stock Take Report [12] . This suggests that DFID translate the rhetoric of the policy into reality and continue to mainstream social exclusion into all of its programmes throughout South Asia. Building on this, DFID should develop targeted programmes which address the specific and often differing needs of excluded groups separately, for instance, programmes on caste, or on ethnicity.

3.6 DFID’s programmes such as the International Partnership Agreement Programme (IPAP) and the Poorest Areas Civil Society Programme (PACS) have demonstrated its ability to reach out to millions of poor and socially excluded communities through support to civil society. Although the programmes represent only a small percentage of DFID’s total aid spending in India, they are central to DFID’s work on social exclusion and must continue to be supported.

3.7 PACS was started in 2001 by DFID to support and strengthen civil society to help the poorest and most vulnerable in deprived districts. The first phase that ended in 2008 focused on tackling the general causes of poverty. It reached more than 19,500 villages in 94 remote rural districts and 143 urban settlements, and demonstrated considerable impact on the lives of the poor. Emphasis was placed on increasing awareness of rights and entitlements and helping poor people realise them, for instance, through greater access to government schemes on subsidised food grain for poor households, maternity benefits and support for construction of homes [13] .

3.8 The current phase of PACS covers 120 of the poorest districts across the seven Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jkarkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal with a high proportion of excluded people. It is aimed at reducing the welfare gap between socially excluded groups and the rest of the population and achieving gender equality. The programme is accountable to communities and enables socially excluded groups to identify and assess their own needs, be empowered to take decisions and realise their rights. Christian Aid’s partners alone have monitored more than 500 cases of human rights abuses and caste based discrimination in the first year of the programme and helped thousands of households to realise their rights and entitlements.

3.9 The ongoing IPAP programme between DFID and seven UK INGOs is a five year programme working to improve development outcomes for socially excluded poor people. This programme has helped UK INGOs and local NGOs to successfully scale up proven, effective programmes targeting socially excluded communities. It has created greater cooperation amongst civil society to work on issues of poverty, exclusion and their linkages with gender and disability. It has also helped to strengthen civil society organisations and leadership amongst socially excluded communities.

3.10 Despite the enactment of several government Acts and welfare programmes in recognition of poor communities, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Forest Rights Act, Right to Education Act, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, many of these are poorly or patchily implemented, resulting in the denial of rights and entitlements for poor and excluded communities. Challenges in delivery are often due to lack of awareness, lack of bargaining power and lack of knowledge and skills at community level to demand services and tackle corruption and the apathy of the administration.

3.11 Civil society is a key stakeholder in reaching out to poor and socially excluded communities. Christian Aid partners such as Ekta Parishad, Astha, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights and Safai Karamchari Andolan have successfully demonstrated programmes which have significantly impacted upon poverty reduction amongst socially excluded communities. During the 2004 tsunami, DFID India worked with civil society groups to respond to the needs of socially excluded groups through their disaster relief programmes. This led to the development of tools such as the ‘Social Equity Audit’ to track social exclusion in times of disasters. Experience has continued to show that local NGOs, due to their rootedness in or close proximity to communities, are able to deliver aid more quickly and to address exclusion, ensuring that aid reaches those most vulnerable during disasters. DFID should provide funding during emergency response for local NGOs with a strong track record of tackling exclusion. DFID should significantly increase investment in civil society initiatives in India more broadly.

4. DFID’s role in addressing the impacts of climate change on the poorest in India to meet the MDGs

4.1 Climate change is an important part of the UK government’s aid programme in India [14] and is managed by a DFID-FCO climate change and energy unit. Despite the existence of this cross-governmental unit, there is little public information on both the FCO and DFID websites outlining the full extent of its work. DFID should promote greater transparency on this work.

4.2 Climate change is changing the nature of disasters in India. India is said to be the world’s second most disaster-prone country with the majority of its districts vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, cyclones, landslides, avalanches, hail or dust-storms. According to Planning Commission statistics, more than two thirds, or about 68% of the country is vulnerable to drought, 8% to cyclones and 12% to floods [15] . Moreover, close to 52% of the Indian population, almost 608 million people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods the majority of them are based in rural areas [16] . Rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, increased water scarcity [17] , and increased frequency of heavy rains, floods and droughts will therefore have very serious impacts on agricultural yields, some of which are already visible.

4.3 For poor people, the impact of climate change exacerbates existing social and environmental problems. Socially excluded groups are particularly vulnerable and will continue to feel the greatest impact of climate change. Climate change can hamper India from achieving its national development goals and the MDGs, including those on poverty eradication, education, child mortality, diseases like malaria and environmental sustainability. DFID should ensure all climate change and DRR programmes focus on vulnerable and socially excluded groups.

4.4 Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and climate change strategies in India need to be a far more integral part of the Government’s broader development framework, with adequate budgeting for initiatives which address socio-economic inequalities. The government of India has responded to this imperative by including, for the first time, a section on climate change in its national development plan [18] and articulating the adverse impacts of climate change on India’s poorest people, especially women, in its National Action Plan on Climate Change. DFID and other donors have an important role to play in supporting the operation of national plans and policies in India. DFID should assist in developing detailed vulnerability assessment mapping to advise policy decisions and planning. DFID should ensure that climate change adaptation perspectives are consistently integrated into existing programmes.

4.5 The ongoing ‘Strengthening Climate Resilience’ (SCR) project is a DFID funded programme that aims to enhance the ability of governments and civil-society organisations to tackle changing disaster risks, enhance adaptive capacity, address poverty, vulnerability and their structural causes and promote environmentally sustainable development across South Asia, South East Asia and East Africa. DFID should ensure that learning from this project informs all programme work in India and should ensure the provision of ongoing funding for the project.

4.6 Many states in India are in the process of drawing up state level climate action plans. It is important that these plans are ambitious, inclusive and just. However, evidence from some state plan highlights a strong perception that GDP and low carbon development are not compatible. DFID has an important role to play in showcasing that programmes with people’s participation which link energy and energy access to growth and development are feasible and can lead to sustainable development.

4.7 While there is a general acknowledgement that energy infrastructure and access is one of the key drivers for economic growth and poverty alleviation, there is much to be done in a country like India where over 45% of the population does not have access to modern energy needs. UK support is needed to meet the initial investment costs for decentralised renewable energy systems in rural areas , including incremental costs of clean energy systems . DFID should support interventions which link clean energy access with poverty alleviation and other MDGs and help funnel funding to holistic and inclusive sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.

5. DFID's ability to act as a catalyst for other donors, to demonstrate best practice and influence wider development outcomes in India

5.1 Evaluations of DFID’s programme in India have highlighted the key role that DFID has played in influencing other donors. For instance, by providing grant funds to partners such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, DFID has worked to influence their programme design and implementation; with a view to securing better targeting of beneficiaries [19] . DFID should take this further by sharing their knowledge and experience of social exclusion to help to mainstream the social exclusion agenda across multilateral programmes. DFID should promote greater diversity and inclusive responses in all development programmes, a key example could be to encourage other donors to use the Social Equity Audit framework to ensure programmes are socially inclusive.

6. DFID's role in the wider relationship between the UK and India

Private Sector:

6.1 Christian Aid recognises the important role of the private sector in addressing poverty and exclusion. Various studies have shown that social exclusion is active in both public and private domains and the private sector is not immune to such practices. Market-based discrimination affects excluded communities [20] . There is an urgent need to make markets and institutions more inclusive and affirmative towards socially excluded communities in India. DFID should share its social exclusion analysis with the UK private sector and encourage UK companies to provide affirmative action plans for Dalits and Adivasis in employment and the procurement of goods and services.

6.2 The DFID IPAP programme has worked to ensure inclusive employment practices, and it is important that key learning from this is used elsewhere. DFID should promote active partnership and mutually accountable practices amongst the private sector and civil society; through supporting the development of skills and knowledge, corporate social responsibility practices and partnerships to showcase how inclusive and equitable growth can address the wider needs and aspirations of poor and socially excluded communities.

Climate Change:

6.3 Co-operation on climate change is a major plank of the UK’s partnership with India. It is, of course, vitally important that DFID works to suppo rt adaptation measures from the community level upwards in India . However, a successful response to climate change also requires concerted action at the international level, starting with firmer domestic action by industrialised countries to tackle emissions. DFID should work with other government departments to ensure that the UK’s overall position does not jeopardise India’s right to sustainable develop ment , and that any actions to limit emissions are based on a consideration of India’s lower (historical and per capita) responsibility for climate change and capacity to pay for the adjustment costs. Key steps that the UK must take include:

· Working to secure an EU-wide emissions reduction target of at least 30% by 2020 as a step towards a more ambitions target of at least 40% .

· Pressing for a global climate deal that is binding, ambitious and fair to developing countries

· Supporting at COP16 the establishment of a fund under the authority of the UNFCCC that can be used to disburse money for adaptation and low-carbon development in developing countries. [21]

· Ensuring that the UK ’s contribution to so-called f ast - start f inance (2010-12) is disbursed in a transparent way . Remaining f ast - start money should be channelled through the UN Adaptation Fund and not to the World Bank.

· In relation to long-term climate finance, committing to taking forward the positive recommendations of the recent report by the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Finance, in particular with regards agreement on a tax on aviation and shipping addressing issues of incidence in developing countries; and committing to deliver the fair-share of the $100 billion per annum Copenhagen pledge on long-term finance from new and innovative , public revenue sources.

By doing so, the UK will help tackle to both the causes and effects of climate change, as they relate to India.

6.4 Meeting the MDGs calls for a global partnership. Keeping in mind the historical relationship between India and the UK and the spirit of ‘common wealth’ both countries should work in equal partnership to address the structural causes of poverty to meet the MDGs.

November 2010

[1] Dalits are ‘Scheduled Castes’ in India They are considered ‘untouchable’ i n the Hindu varna system of caste hierarchy and sit outside of the caste system . Adivasi’s are ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in India and are indigenous tribal people. Together they represent approximately half the population of India .


[3] Poverty Over: We’re All In This Together , A Christian Aid Report, 2010


[5] DFID , 'Reducing Poverty by Tackling Social Exclusion : A DFID Policy Paper' , 2005, London


[7] In India , manual scavengers are people who clean other people’s excretion for work.

[8] Chapter Six, Eleventh Five Year Plan , Planning Commission, Government of India , 2007

[9] John Heath, An Evaluation of India ’s Programme 2000-2005 , DFID, London , 2005

[10] DFID Global Social Exclusion Stock take Report , Annexes, India Case Study, 2010

[11] F.Watkins, Evaluation of DFID Development Assistance: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, DFID Evaluation Development, 2004

[12] DFID Global Social Exclusion Stock take Report , Annexes, India Case Study, 2010

[13] Impact Assessment of the DFID-Supported Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme , Final Report, TARU, October 2006

[14] Three Faces of India , DFID Country Plan 2008-2012

[15] Eleventh Five Year Plan , Planning Commission, Government of India , 2007

[16] Planning Commission Report on Agriculture, 2007

[17] p.78 of the National Communication states that there could be an increase in water scarcity in the majority of river basins in the country.

[18] Eleventh Five Year Plan , Planning Commission, Government of India , 2007

[19] John Heath, An Evaluation of India ’s Programme 2000-2005 , DFID, London , 2005

[20] Reservation and Private Sector: Quest for Equal Opportunity and Growth , Sukhadeo T horat, Aryama and Prashant Negi, IIDS and Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2005 –

[21] This fund could be linked to the existing Adaptation Fund.