Persistent, and often increasing, inequalities is largely the result of ‘social exclusion’, whereby groups of people (based on their identity) are denied rights to fully participate in society, leading to material and other forms of deprivation. In recognition of this, UNICEF India has placed social inclusion as a central pillar in its current country programme, parallel with the theme of inclusive growth articulated in India’s 11th Five Year Plan. In lieu of this strategic understanding, UNICEF India has recognized that a broad-based analysis of lessons from NGO and other initiatives working in social development and towards reducing disparities and exclusion will contribute to furthering both, UNICEF’s own work in the area, as well as government policy and action.
In partnership with UNICEF, New Concept Information Systems has undertaken identification and analytical documentation of demonstrated successful practices in social inclusion (based on carefully and clearly established set of criteria) to inform public discourse. Interventions identified included those reaching three specific socially marginalised groups: Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Muslims, with a view to reducing disparities in relation to outcomes in Water and Sanitation, Health, and Education.
Beginning with a national scan of web-based secondary research of best practices/successful models; initially a long list of 45 possible models focused on inclusion of social groups were identified across the three thematic domains. Of these, 38 were shortlisted for further investigation and scrutiny with an additional set of criteria (i) demonstrative impact on disparities reduction; (ii) inclusiveness as defined in organizational objectives & strategies; (iii) quality of services, and (iv) scale and duration of operation. This process was guided by consultations with Technical Advisory Group (TAG-formed by UNICEF).
The application of this lens initiated a more rigorous process of selection of nine models (three from each thematic area) for distilling lessons in inclusive practices. All these nine models are non-UNICEF supported and a diverse mix of implementing agencies with various institutional mechanisms. This was followed by a one-day consultative workshop in February 2012 with the implementing organizations to gain their concurrence as well as further insights on their programmatic approaches and outcomes.
This was followed by a phase of Intensive fieldwork between March and May 2012 with visits to each of the nine selected organisations.
Key areas of interest that have been explored through this documentation include the following.
- What practices in the areas of health, nutrition, education and sanitation have successfully addressed social inclusion in service delivery and access to entitlements?
- What have been the experiences of the successful practices identified above in terms of:
a) Effectiveness with respect to enabling socially excluded community groups to demand, access and utilize relevant services;
b) Barriers to inclusion addressed;
c) The core elements of the strategy that have contributed to social inclusion within the particular service/sector;
d) The experiences of scaling up and the main contributors and/or challenges to scaling up;
e) Cost-effectiveness of the equity focused strategy (i.e. extra measures required) to reach desired outcomes.
The documentation was completed in August 2012 and is intended to help deepen understanding of the approaches, strategies and practices that have contributed to reduction of disparities in each of the nine models.