Reduce focus on competitive approach under Aspirational Districts Programme: UNDP’s suggestion to govt


The United Nations Development Programme has suggested the government reduce focus on competitive approach in its Aspirational Districts Programme as this results in misreporting of data by districts. Further it has suggested government realign sectors with focus on environment and gender and build capacities at the grassroot levels going forward.

The recommendations by UNDP are part of the appraisal report of the ADP programme released on Friday, three years after the programme was launched in 2018 across 112 aspirational districts in 28 states.

“Discussions with different stakeholders have highlighted the need for revising indicators, as well as reduced focus on a competitive approach, as they are likely to result in misreporting of data by districts,” UNDP said in its report.

UNDP is of the view that ADP brought with it few challenges relating to monitoring and data collection, one of which is the discrepancy in data collected and recorded.

Further, UNDP said while the aspirational districts programme has helped strengthen crucial healthcare and education sectors, those with lesser weightage need significant focus and improvement. “A realignment of sectors and focus is therefore required,” it said.

According to UND, one of the disadvantages of the aspirational districts has been the disparities among districts which does not facilitate fair competition and comparisons. “In order to counter these issues, districts could be further grouped together based on their common characteristics and be supported accordingly,” it has suggested.

One of the major issues highlighted in the report across the districts irrespective of performance has been the lack of human resources and technical capacities at the district and block level. “There is a need for capacity building at the grassroots level. This can be resolved by providing districts with dedicated personnel such as aspirational district fellows or representatives of the programme,” UNDP suggested.

“This would bring in additional accountability and ownership for the programme, while also providing support to the administration. Adopting more flexible methods of the hiring was also suggested as a potential solution for improving capacities,” it said.

The report further said that given the disparities in sectors, districts and also capacities, furthering collaboration with different organisations may provide the immediate and required support to these districts. “This can especially be provided for districts located in remote and challenging areas,” it said.

The aim of ADP is to quickly and effectively transform these identified districts. The broad contours of the programme are convergence (of central and state schemes), collaboration (of central, state level prabhari officers and district collectors), and competition among districts. The focus of the program is to identify the strength of each district and their low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement and measure progress as well as rank districts based on improvements.



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