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HYDERABAD: The implementation of MNREGS was found to have significantly improved food security, reduced anxiety levels and resulted in financial inclusion of ‘Ultra Poor Households' in a study conducted on the impact of the scheme on poor families.
The study carried out by Shamika Ravi, Assistant Professor of Economics, Indian School of Business specifically looked at the impact of the programme on extreme poverty of the participating households with reference to food security, health outcomes (both physical and mental) and financial inclusion. The households were selected on the basis of housing, land and asset ownership.
40 per cent increase
It was found that there was a 40 per cent increase in monthly per capita food consumption expenditure and each member of an ultra poor household was having three more meals per week than before participating in the programme, the study's author Ms. Shamika told The Hindu here on Thursday. The three-year study from 2007, involved 1,066 households across 203 villages of Medak district.
It was also found that the per capita expenditure on non-food consumables, including toiletry and soaps, went up by 69 per cent. In absolute terms, the monthly per capita food expenditure increased by Rs.96 and the per capita expenses on non-food consumables by Rs.16 for each household.
Besides, improvement in financial situation, it showed a significant decrease of emotional distress in the form anxiety, tension and worries. The programme lowered emotional distress and anxiety by eight per cent among the participants.
Pointing out that it was important to look into the relationship of mental health and income levels, Ms. Shamika said higher anxiety levels would lower the entrepreneurial ability, impact the performance and hence the income.
With increase in monthly savings per household, which was an important measure of financial inclusion, it was found that nine per cent more households reported savings.
Also around 67 per cent of the participants reported that it provided employment security, indicating that the scheme was successfully used as an employment insurance scheme.
Overall, it seemed to be working in terms of poverty alleviation. “While the impact of MNREGS on participating households was positive and significant, we have not measured the impact of the programme on the economy as a whole” Ms. Shamika added.
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