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Combating Corruption with Mobile Phones

This project is the second phase of a research project of The Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University, titled Combating Corruption with Mobile Phones, started in 2012 with CORD as the implementing partner in India. A set of digital tools and practices were built to improve last-mile accountability in public service delivery, with a focus on the rural poor. The project demonstrated promise and Tata Trusts were approached for support to expand the combating corruption with mobile phones project.

Phase 1: The first four years (2012-16) were focused on designing and testing tools for last-mile accountability. After several iterations, the project arrived at a toolkit that could be used by CSOs to (1) Make public services more transparent to the beneficiaries (2) Collect timely feedback from the beneficiaries for grievance redressal (3) Analyse data proactively to identify problems and (4) Build a community to redress grievances collectively.

Phase 2: The key goal of the present phase of the project is to scale with limited overheads by drawing inspiration from the franchising movement. So, in the four years (2017 2021), the project aims to scale substantially and create a social business model with revenue streams that are expected to sustain the work in the future. The focus is on building infrastructure and processes that will allow the project team to work with a large number of partners with limited overheads per partner. In-built components in the project would monitor progress and evaluate impact.

The present phase is a collaborative venture that includes CORD, several grassroots NGOs and independent researchers. The project is financially supported by Tata Trusts.

CORD is undertaking an impact evaluation study in Damaragidda and Maddur blocks of Mahbubnagar district of Telangana. The aim of the survey is to assess the impact of the project interventions on the implementation of the NREGA in these areas.

Overtime NREGA has become an integral constituent of the social security architecture for the informal sector in India. Hence, any lapses in its implementation have costs associated with it. Lapses in implementation can manifest in the form of lower uptake of works or wage payment delays. The present research project aims to evaluate the impact of technological intervention, primarily mobile phones, to address the lapses in implementation. We have chosen two blocks, Damaragidda and Maddur, in Mahbubnagar district for intervention. The baseline survey of households was conducted in these and other control blocks in the months of September, October and November, 2017. This will be followed by intervention for a period of one year and then an endline survey will be conducted to estimate the impact of intervention. The interventions and the study are financially supported by Tata Trust.

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