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Mobile Vaani solution for reducing exclusion wins the Global Prize for Mission Billion Challenge

Gram Vaani’s Mobile Vaani solution for reducing exclusion in collaboration with Dvara Research has won the Global Prize as part of the World Bank Group’s Mission Billion Innovation Challenge. The Mobile Vaani team will have the opportunity to collaborate with World Bank teams to further develop, pilot and scale their solution. Given how the COVID19 crisis highlighted unfair exclusions that can arise among marginalized populations, they proposed how systems can be scaled to reduce exclusions and bring transparency in access to social protection measures that are especially mediated through digital ID systems. Their ideas resonated with the theme of inclusion for this year’s Global Prize.

The digitally powered ID systems that form the basis of delivery of public services (including welfare) in India have been prone to failure in recent times. Even with the country-scale ID system Aadhaar in India, there are plenty of issues faced by citizens that are unaddressed. The solution will work on building an inclusive platform to help vulnerable citizens in rural areas report complaints and failures in accessing welfare entitlements which are increasingly linked to a digital ID system. This will also help create a complaints database that offers a way to identify the reasons for failure and offers a simple yet unique way to measure the efficiency of welfare delivery.

Mobile Vaani provides an easy way for citizens to register complaints and can act as a pivotal feedback loop for local administrations to understand where systems are failing, and take accountability to address the gaps. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Mobile Vaani was used extensively in approximately 25 districts spread across the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, ​Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR, and Tamil Nadu. Over 20,000 voice recordings were contributed by Mobile Vaani users, more than 7,000 of which were related to problems faced by people in availing relief services.

A policy brief​ codes this content to represent the extent of problems faced by people, and a consultative campaign #NotStatusQuo​ describes the specific reasons and suggests solutions why people faced these exclusions. More than 800 of these reported issues were also resolved and acknowledged by the beneficiaries, who were able to access the relief measures. Gram Vaani’s live dashboard​ reports updated numbers. Watch the winning pitch here.

Gram Vaani and Dvara Research teams have already been working on this concept and are well-positioned to scale it further. Please access case studies from this collaboration here “Falling through the Cracks: Case Studies in Exclusion from Social Protection”.

Gram Vaani is a global leader in the design of appropriate technologies for development. They have won several national and international awards, written research papers, and are cited actively by academics and development practitioners alike for technology innovations coupled with careful programme and process design to ensure impact out of these innovations. On the specific solution proposed, they have already demonstrated its feasibility and relevance, and have written actively in the media using the data generated through the solution, eg: India Development Review​, Scroll​, India Forum​, India Spend​.

Dvara Research (DR) is a not-for-profit policy research and advocacy institute whose primary mission is to ensure access to financial services for all individuals and enterprises. DR has made several contributions to the Indian financial system and participated as experts in various engagements with key policy making institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Government of India advocating for “suitability” in the design of financial services and stronger consumer protection for low-income households.  Among other efforts, DR was the technical secretariat to the RBI’s Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households and contributed to various bodies including the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Committee (FSLRC), Committee of Experts on data protection,  RBI’s inter-regulatory Working Group on Fintech & Digital Banking and various other platforms.