Do People with Disability need a job in MGNREGA

Type of Project: Research
Research Team: Basavaraju R, Dr. Siddappa,
Madiwalar, Mr. Prakash

GRAAM conducted a study in the Kolar district of Karnataka to understand the importance and effectiveness of MNREGA as a means of employment for PwD. The study included interviews with 454 PwD, their family members and gram panchayat leaders and discussions were held regarding the socioeconomic status of PwD, need for employment, and their awareness and participation level with respect to MNREGA.

Some of the key findings that emerged out of the study are as follows:

  • Socio-economic status
  • 62% of PwD are from the vulnerable sections of society.
  • 70% of PwD own no immovable assets and 93% of PwD do not own any movable assets in their name.
  • 31% families are landless.
  • 35% families have recorded agriculture as their primary source of income.
  • 69% of the families are depending on non-continuous or largely seasonal employment for their source of income.
  • 83% of the families had no opportunity to be in any of the community governance system.
  • 53% of them are not even in Self Help Groups.

Employment opportunities

  • 372 out of 454 i.e. 82% of PwD are in the age group of 18-60 years and of these only 34% are employed.
  • 69% of all PwD said there are no job opportunities for them in their villages.
  • Among those employed, 54% lacked required training. Only 36% have sufficient aids and equipment to perform their job and 38% are not aware of the provision of assistive tools or aids at work place.

MNREGA as a means of livelihood

  • 79% families expressed the need of MNREGA and 66% families said PwD can work in it.
  • 47% of PwD in the productive age group (18-60) years are in need of MNREGA.
  • The requirement is higher (54.76%) in the age group of 36-45 years.
  • 71% of PwD in the age group 18-60 years reported a monthly income of less than Rs 1200/-

MNREGA fails to accommodate PwD

  • Present inclusion of PwD in MNREGA is actually by default and not by design.
  • Only 41% of those in need of MNREGA could avail the opportunity.
  • 49% of the families who got an opportunity to work in MNREGA got less than 50 man days of work.
  • 34% of families say PwD cannot work, mainly because they perceive MNREGA has physical labor and it is difficult work.
  • Most implementers at the GP level feel “it is impossible for PwD to work in MNREGA.

Recommendations

Policy action needs to be taken at both national and the state level to ensure the inclusion of PwD in MNREGA

At National Level

The act should affirmatively make an effort to acknowledge special categories like PwDs, by stating exclusive provision under Conditions For Guaranteed Rural Employment Under A Scheme and Minimum Entitlements of Labourer (Schedule II of the Act):

  • Making it mandatory to issue exclusive job cards for every PwD who can/wants to work under MNREGA.
  • Make scope for providing additional days of work and wages for PwD as they have limited access to livelihood in rural areas.
  • Budget should be specifically earmarked for accommodating PwD and for required assistive tools.
  • PwD inclusion issues should be brought under social audit.

At State Level

The State needs to pay full attention to the strategy for vulnerable groups issued in the Operational Guidelines (4th edition) and consider the following steps:

  • Identifying and earmarking jobs for PwD in consultation with the PwD advocacy groups and community members.
  • Making District Level Coordinator responsible for accommodating vulnerable groups as suggested in the guidelines.
  • Ensure mandatory provision in Management Information System for including PwD.
  • Revise MNREGA formats to specifically include and mention disability status.
  • Provide separate and independent job cards to PwD.
  • Active involvement of civil society organization to organize PwD and sensitize the employers on the field.
  • Relaxing work norms and aiding transportation to worksite.
  • Establishing separate PwD Kayaka Sangha and priority for a PwD to be the convener of other Kayaka Sanghas.
  • Developing one exclusive program in each Gram Panchayat which shall be implemented only through PwDs.

Grassroots voice

  • “There should be an exclusive scheme for PwD under MNREGA. One can easily find 600 PwD in 10 GPs, but definitely will not find even 10 PwD working in MNREGA. Unless exclusive work for PwD is planned, it is impossible to ensure inclusion.”
  • “Bill should not be passed unless prescribed number of jobs are given to PwD. PwD should get a job card. I can say at least in my panchayat, cards are with GP members and officials, and they use it as per their discretion.”
  • “PwD are not getting opportunities. GP members themselves are getting all the work done and hence it is difficult to expect inclusion of PwD. Members also say when normal people are not able to do MNREGA job, how a PwD can work.”
  • “Certification process is more corruption prone now than earlier. Previous government created pension slab according to the severity of disability. Although intention of the govt. was good to give more amount to the severely disabled (above 75%), demand for certificate with higher severity has increased and so has the corruption.” – Member of PwD Network shared in FGD