The Ministry of Rural Development has formulated a comprehensive Information Education and Communication (IEC) Strategy exclusively for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The strategy aims to create awareness among rural people and other stake holders with special focus on MGNREGA workers about various aspects of MGNREGA. The strategy also aims at facilitating dissemination of right based provisions of the Act to ensure that the workers know their right to demand wage employment and exercise their right by applying for such employment as per their need. Beyond raising awareness, interventions at interpersonal level have been provided to ensure that individuals convert their awareness into action. For this, Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) activities would be taken up by the states, at the grass root level. The strategy has come into force with immediate effect, and has been shared with the States.
Apart from a few recent studies, the CAG performance audit report on MGNREGA 2013 had commented on the lack of awareness among rural community about the Scheme. The CAG report further highlighted the absence of an IEC strategy in most of the States. Subsequently, the Ministry has now requested all the States to prepare IEC annual action plans and quarterly deliverables for the FY 13-14 in respect of MGNREGA. The Ministry has shared its IEC annual action plan 2013-14 and quarterly implementation plan with the States, as a guidance note.
The IEC strategy for MGNREGA enumerates the approaches on how the MoRD, the States, the districts, the intermediate panchayats, gram panchayats and the grass root level functionaries should implement the IEC activities and BCC activities in their specific geographical areas. The strategy would facilitate in managing IEC activities, maintaining uniformity in messages, producing high quality, cost effective, target specific IEC/BCC products based on the key messages and thereby ensuring better uptake of the provisions offered by the Act. The strategy has identified the key messages of MGNREGA, information gaps and has classified its target audience.
The key messages of MGNREGA are:
1) MGNREGA guarantees hundred days of wage employment in a financial year, to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
2) Individual beneficiary oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
3) Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
4) Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
5) Receipt of wages within fifteen days of work done
6) Variety of permissible works which can be taken up by the Gram Panchayaths
7) MGNREGA focuses on the economic and social empowerment of women
8) MGNREGA provides Green and Decent work.
9) Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency
10) MGNREGA works address the climate change vulnerability and protect the farmers from such risks and conserve natural resources.
11) The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands. It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.
The strategy also takes a detour from the conventional mass media driven approach in message dissemination, and focus on mid media and interpersonal media initiatives to ensure that the messages reach the target group in an effective and sustainable way. Advantages of social media websites will also be utilized and importance will be given on the branding of MGNREGA at the grass root level.
The IEC strategy has integrated into it a detailed media advocacy plan which intends to capacitate the MGNREGA system to respond to media on a continuous basis rather than reacting to it. The media advocacy plan puts forward activities like orientation of staff and journalists at various levels, exposure visits etc.
The strategy is available for download