Building SOPs for Grievance Redressal to Reduce Exclusions in Access to Social Protection Schemes

We are excited to announce that Gram Vaani, in collaboration with Dvara Research, University of Montreal, and Tika Vaani has been selected for the Azim Premji University COVID-19 Research Funding Programme 2020, to conduct action-research on designing better grievance redressal in social welfare schemes.

The COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent public health measures followed in India for containment of the pandemic spread have severely impacted poor and vulnerable populations on food security, livelihood, and access to health services [1]. Although the government has mobilised several relief measures, there has been extensive documentation of exclusion of deserving people from availing these social protection measures [2]. Dvara’s social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research in collaboration with Gram Vaani for past few months has been documenting the stories of beneficiaries who have faced challenges in welfare access in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to map points of exclusion across the four key stages of scheme design and delivery. The #NotStatusQuo campaign run by Gram Vaani captured many such issues and suggested recommendations to improve the delivery of social protection for the poor and vulnerable [3].

As a way forward, this grant will allow us to continue this work along the lines of designing better SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) for grievance redressal, which in turn can be followed by CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) and government line departments to assist poor and vulnerable populations to gain access to schemes. The envisioned SOP will reflect practical and actionable steps based on the learning gained of what works and what doesn’t in citizen-state interactions, and also will advocate methods to improve these interactions. The focus of our work will be on PDS (Public Distribution System), NSAP (National Social Assistance Scheme), DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) linked schemes such as PM-KISAN and Jan Dhan, MGNREGA, BOCW, and Provident Fund (PF).  The project will commence on October 1 2020 and is due to be completed by December 31, 2020. Through this research, we aim to share our learning with other CSOs, and to also advocate for a closer working relationship between government line departments and CSOs so that social protection measures can reach the most marginalised groups and overcome unfair exclusions from these benefits.

[1] Janta Parliament,, Aug 16-21, 2020: With representation from across the country by over 250 speakers, this is an exhaustive documentation of issues facing the citizens, including issues related to social protection schemes.

[2] COVID-19: Analysis of Impact and Relief Measures,, Accessed September 5th 2020: A compilation of several surveys, including some specifically on access to relief measures – APU survey of 5,000 households, Gram Vaani survey of 2,400 people, Dalberg survey of 47,000 households

[3] #NotStatusQuo: A Campaign to Fix the Broken Social Protection Systems in India – Aaditeshwar Seth, Sultan Ahmad, Orlanda Ruthven – Gram Vaani, August 2020