WFP in India is driven by the vision to help address the current paradox that despite economic growth, self-sufficiency in food grains production, a sound legal framework and policies, the country remains home to a huge concentration of malnourished and food-insecure people.
Rayagada Pilot Project – Strengthening TPDS Through Technology
In 2007, WFP began identifying the underlying reasons for the poor performance of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), India’s main vehicle to address hunger and under-nutrition. In partnership with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), WFP embarked on scrutinising ongoing TPDS reform efforts in eight states of India to identify the most common problems and best practice solutions that were suitable for wider replication across different states. The study revealed that the physical leakage of food grains was rampant across the entire supply chain. Specific gaps included disparity in ration card issuance, reliance on human monitoring and lack of transparency and beneficiary awareness.
Based on the findings and in partnership with the Government of Odisha, WFP designed a pilot project for TPDS reforms in Rayagada district. Rayagada is a highly food insecure district with wide-spread adult illiteracy rates, poor rural infrastructure and other low social and development indicators. About half of Rayagada’s population of one million people is critically dependent on the TPDS for subsistence.
WFP tested solutions in Rayagada included digitisation of the district population’s ration cards, biometric enrolment of the population and subsequent de-duplication of the TPDS beneficiary lists. This process led to the creation of a unique beneficiary database, issuance of smart ration cards and the instalment of biometrics-based authentication devices at the transaction points in urban areas. In rural areas, a coupon-based system which could be read with a barcode scanner was introduced. In addition, WFP facilitated increased awareness of beneficiaries, transaction point managers and government staff on the TPDS reform processes and beneficiary entitlements.
As a result of the de-duplication process, over 10 percent of ration cards were eliminated as fakes or duplicates. Monitoring and planning of the supply chain was greatly improved with computerisation and a management information system. Increased efficiency and transparency of the entire system resulted in substantial savings and improved beneficiary service.
In addition, the Rayagada project provided important lessons not only to the Government of Odisha, but also to the Government of India’s computerisation efforts of the TPDS. It provided valuable inputs to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is currently in the process of enrolling all residents with a unique biometrics-based Aadhaar number.
WFP Targeted Public Distribution System 3S Model
India’s subsidised food distribution system, the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), currently serves around 65 million of the poorest families across India with monthly supplies of wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene oil. The TPDS itself is one of the world’s largest food distribution systems with a long and complex supply chain including procurement, transportation, storage and distribution through 500,000 Fair Price Shops across the country.
WFP India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in April 2012 to support the efficiency of the existing TPDS, which was suffering from poor targeting, inefficient supply chain management and large scale leakage of commodities. WFP led the development of the TPDS 3S (Secure, Strengthen, Save) model, based on thorough research of reform initiatives across states and on-ground experience with TPDS reforms.
The Model serves as a technology-led, best practice system for subsidised food delivery under the TPDS and can be fully adapted to specific state and district contexts. It is linked to the biometrics-based authentication service provided by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Additional features of the 3S model include a sound grievance re-dressal and exception management system, improved mechanisms to facilitate transactions at Fair Price Shops, supply chain management and concurrent monitoring to enhance the accountability of the TPDS.
WFP is advocating for the substantial savings generated due to the efficiency brought in by the 3S Model to be re-invested in improving the nutritional value of the TPDS food basket. In 2013, WFP entered a partnership with the Government of Odisha, to facilitate the state-wide implementation of the 3S Model.
WFP is working on nutrition enhancement approaches through fortification addressing micronutrient deficiencies in school children in the context of the national Mid-Day-Meal (MDM) school feeding programme. In a pilot project, state-of-the-art technology is applied to produce ‘fortified rice kernels’, which are blended with the rice provided by the Government of Odisha for the MDM in Gajapati district of Odisha. The WFP project assists in providing more than 100,000 school children with freshly prepared hot school meals made from rice enriched with iron. The objective is to decrease the current prevalence of anaemia among elementary school children by at least five percent.
This unique pilot aims at devising a scalable model for application in multiple districts and eventually across state borders in other parts of India as well. It includes supply chain improvements as well as training and advocacy to raise awareness on child nutrition among caregivers and school administrators.
In partnership with the State government and local civil society organisations, WFP has established village grain banks in targeted districts of Uttarakhand in order to increase vulnerable communities’ resilience to climate change, natural disasters and seasonal food shortages. Most rural communities depend on subsistence level farming and are highly vulnerable to the recurrent un-availability of food.
WFP’s efforts focus on mobilising and sensitising communities to the concept and functional modalities of the grain banks. Elected and trained grain bank management committees ensure the proper functioning of the banks for the benefit of the bank members and the entire community. Members can borrow grains in times of need and repay the quantity with interest. A set of agreed upon incentives and penalties ensure that the banks function sustainably. Until December 2013, 55 Village Grain Banks were established and handed over to the community and the Government of Uttarakhand.
Food Insecurity Mapping And Monitoring
Through Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM), WFP identifies the most food insecure areas and population groups in India. In close collaboration with the Institute for Human Development (a research organisation recognised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India), WFP’s VAM analysis is focusing on eight priority states with either high overall prevalence of food insecurity or where WFP has ongoing projects. The findings inform progamme design and response in the States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. In 2012 WFP and the Institute jointly published district level food security atlases for these states.
In addition to the collaboration with the Institute of Human Development, WFP has been partnering with the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation for more than a decade, to advocate and bring nutrition and food security to the forefront of the Government of India’s policy consideration. The research and need based studies undertaken by WFP on exclusion and impact of high food prices on the poor informed the Government’s food and nutrition strategies.