Reality Check for XIth Five-Year Plan: People evaluate women & child development schemes

Reality Check for XIth Five-Year Plan:
People evaluate women & child development schemes

People of Uttar Pradesh (UP) participated in the "mid-term appraisal" consultation geared to harness their perspectives on the eleventh five-year plan of the Government of India. The meeting "Listening to Voices from the field" was organized for the Planning Commission in the state capital of UP, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), in collaboration with the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), Path and national Alliance of Women (NAWO).

The objective of the exercise was to obtain the community’s perspective and gauge the effectiveness of the various Women and Child Development schemes launched by the Central government of India. The participants discussed in-depth on the different schemes, their visibility, effectiveness, implementation and identified the road blocks for their optimal implementation.

The eleventh Five Year Plan aims on "inclusive growth." As a midterm appraisal of the plan is being scheduled this year, it is prudent to feed in the perceptions from the poor and the marginalized social groups regarding delivery of different schemes which are specifically targeted to improve their quality of life. In this context, it is critical to listen directly to intended beneficiaries of these schemes in the social sector with special reference to access and quality in delivery schemes.

"The community members are the ones to whom the benefits of the plans, programmes and the schemes should ultimately reach and thus it is important that their opinion is duly taken and passed on to the planners of schemes," said JP Sharma, Director, Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (UPVHA). He termed the meeting as one of the masses.

Referring to the meeting as a "reality check and recommendation attempt", Dr Manju Agarwal, one of the organizers of the event said that through such reality checks, the common citizens will get a chance to get their point of view on the subject across to the Planning Commission and an opportunity to inform the recommendations for the 12th Five Year Plan.

For this meeting in UP, the participants were divided in five groups based on their expertise. These groups were women, children, minority, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and health. Each group, comprising about ten participants was given a reality check list. The discussion was divided in two parts- ground realities and recommendations. Each groups reported back to the plenary which led to the open house.

It is shocking to acknowledge the low levels of awareness about these Central government schemes in the masses. While the group representing the minority put this as a planned strategy to under serve the community, the other groups felt there were different reasons for purposely holding back information related to development schemes.

Intentionally there was no representation from the government at this meeting so that the draft recommendations remain unbiased and participants from the civil society feel comfortable to conduct an honest appraisal of these schemes. The final shape to the appraisal and recommendation document will be given at a forthcoming meeting in Chandigarh on 23-24 September 2009.

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