One of the fastest growing economies in the world, India still faces significant challenges from rising inequality and service delivery shortfalls, particularly in poor communities. UNDP is helping the Government of India to meet these challenges through the Development Support Services. Funded with a combination of domestic and international finance, these allow the ready application of UNDP expertise and technical resources, on demand, to current and emerging development priorities. Services are carefully chosen to unlock rapid progress, on a large scale, under flagship national and state development programmes
Fully aligned with the national development agenda, UNDP’s work in India is aimed at bridging capacity gaps and removing implementation bottlenecks. The Development Support Services brings together multiple streams of domestic and international resources while remaining under national leadership. UNDP ensures quality, timeliness and impact in the use of funds, along with a high level of transparency and accountability. Technical expertise and innovations are aimed at quick gains in efficiency and expertise.
Key Activities and Achievements
Requests for support under the Development Support Services are initiated by a central ministry and/or state government, and service agreements jointly developed with UNDP. So far, 25 agreements with 7 central ministries and 10 state governments have been approved, with a total value of over $62 million. A central focus is on targeted capacity-building; as soon as a partner reaches capacity benchmarks built into each agreement, UNDP no longer provides the service.
Resilience to disaster and climate change
A key area for the Development Support Services has been in strengthening resilience to disaster and climate change. The Disaster Management Act 2005 empowered central and state governments to strengthen disaster risk reduction, moving beyond the traditional emphasis on post-disaster response. Disaster management authorities, however, are not consistently well equipped to face the growing challenges of climate change and extreme weather events, or to fully utilize the rising quantity of funds allocated for disaster risk reduction. This is due to inadequate institutional capacities as well as administrative and procedural constraints on the timely procurement of goods and services. A lack of tools and methodologies to assess and reduce risks have further limited plans, institutions and actions to build resilience. Communities in many high- risk areas continue to face threats of loss of life and/or assets.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has advised states to use UNDP services as a bridge to stronger capacities and greater fund utilization. UNDP has partnered with the Ministry in this area for over a decade, and under a disaster risk management programme from 2002 to 2009, helped extend protections to approximately 300 million people living in areas vulnerable to multiple hazards. Under the programme, policy makers and elected representative at various levels developed new skills related to disaster risk management, while communities took a much more participatory role in disaster preparedness and planning. The success of the initiative was demonstrated when Cyclone Phailin hit the state of Odisha in 2013. Forty-four people lost their lives, compared to over 10,000 in a similar cyclone in 1999.
Through the Development Support Services, UNDP is making international and national expertise on disaster risk reduction available to the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. Priorities include assessing the extent of vulnerabilities and risks from natural and human induced hazards, and developing comprehensive capacities for disaster prevention, response and recovery. Another emphasis is on integrating disaster planning, preparedness and mitigation in development plans and programmes, specifically in urban development, rural housing and civil aviation.
In the state of Himachal Pradesh, partnership between UNDP and the state government has entailed revising disaster management plans, formulating a capacity development strategy, preparing standardized training modules, developing state master trainers, mobilizing public awareness, and training community task forces on first aid, search and rescue, and shelter management. UNDP support has brought in expert human resources, helped quality assurance and aided in overcoming procedural constraints. The state government has requested further help in conceptualizing a management structure to advance implementation of the Smart City programme.
In Maharashtra, the state government has not been able to collect and collate disaster-related data scattered across departments and agencies at different levels and carry out assessments clearly articulating hazards at the district and sub-district levels. UNDP has provided technical experts and brought together various state government agencies to develop capacities to update risk assessments. A pilot study on hazard risk vulnerability in the district of Pune is being scaled up to 14 districts confronting multiple hazards, with the aim of eventually extending it to the entire state. The state government plans to institutionalize regular reviews and revisions of hazard and vulnerability assessments
Nationally, the Airports Authority of India has an excellent capacity for handling civil aviation emergencies such as emergency landings, air crashes, fire, etc. Mitigation and management of natural hazards have not been given sufficient attention, however. UNDP has helped airport officials develop skills to conduct assessments for handling potential surges of relief supplies and passengers, and to prepare disaster management plans. The Authority is now considering steps to improve disaster preparedness at 20 major airports in collaboration with UNDP
Stronger health systems
India’s Universal Immunization Programme aims to reach 27 million infants and 30 million pregnant women each year, free of cost. Spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it is one of the largest programmes of its kind anywhere in the world. While the Government is committed to achieving universal immunization coverage, gaps in cold chain and vaccine logistics management systems remain key obstacles to this goal.
The Government received financial support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization to strengthen immunization in 122 states with relatively low rates of full immunization. Given UNDP’s experience in managing almost 12 percent of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, through grants in 29 countries, and by virtue of its strong administrative and operational capacities, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asked it to lead a $38.5 million component of the agreement. This involves implementing an electronic vaccine intelligence network (eVIN), developing a national monitoring and evaluation framework for immunization, and supporting national research.
eVIN is a unique and innovative IT solution that improves vaccine supply chains by integrating, for the first time, vaccine stock management and temperature monitoring on a real-time basis. It provides strong data for informed decision-making and planning around vaccine distribution and the introduction of newer vaccines. A user-friendly mobile application facilitates record-keeping, feeding into a web-based platform enabling review of the data at the state and national levels. Digital temperature loggers track and transmit storage temperatures, critical to ensuring the potency of vaccines. If there is a breach in temperatures, an automatic alert is sent via text message to staff responsible for maintenance of cold chain equipment.
UNDP has supported the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to procure and install the eVIN software and the temperature monitors, to deploy vaccine and cold chain managers in each of 160 districts, and most importantly, to build the capacities of immunization officials and cold chain handlers across national, state, district and primary health centre levels. Since October 2015, eVIN has been rolled out at all 4,500 health centres that store vaccines in all districts of the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. More than 7,000 vaccine handlers have been trained and 6,800 digital temperature loggers installed. By the end of 2016, eVIN was installed in 12 states covering 11,000 vaccine storage points. Nearly 20,000 government cold chain handlers will be trained on the system. Better services will reach around 38 million children, 60 percent of India’s target population for immunization.