ToR VUP Rapid Study

First Published in 2015

Term of Reference for a Rapid Assessment Study of the
Village Upliftment Programme (VUP) in HiH India
Hand in Hand India (HiH India) is a development organisation that has been working on alleviating poverty in many parts of rural India ever since 2003. HiH India does not believe that eradication of poverty can be accomplished only through anti-poverty programmes alone. Therefore an Integrated Community Development approach has been developed, which has become the cornerstone of HiH’s strategy in all its projects.

This approach consists of five interconnected and interdependent pillars or activities centred on the following areas:
1. Self Help Groups (SHGs) for enterprise creation and poverty reduction;
2. Child labour elimination and education;
3. Skills Development & Technology Centre (Citizens’ Centre Enterprises) to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level;
4. Health and hygiene to create awareness and improve health standards; and
5. Environmental protection via watershed and solid waste management projects.
The “Village Upliftment Programme” (VUP) of HiH India has adopted the five pillar approach that works with the Panchayats (village-level democratic institutions) to bring about an integrated development in rural India. The aim is to develop a vibrant village community and to create a self- sustaining open platform for solving important developmental and local issues concerning poverty, livelihoods opportunities, education, health, environment, local governance, gender and other prime concerns. For a period of two years (24 months), the five-pillar activities are simultaneously implemented in the VUP villages.

Purpose of the Assessment:
The VUP Programme has been running for 10 years in India and at present 154 VUP projects have been completed, in which majority of them are in Tamil Nadu. The programme has recently been spread to five (5) other states where HiH India is present, namely Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal and currently there are 78 VUPs ongoing across the six (6) states. The study aims to reveal immediate and long-term social and economic impacts on individual members, their families and at community level after the completion of a project. It should also assess intended or unintended positive and/or negative changes in people’s lives directly or indirectly related to the project. It should identify what has changed and for whom. The study should critically review the programme and give concrete recommendations on what can be done better and/or differently in order to achieve optimal social and economic effects. The five pillar program should be reviewed and each pillar assessed independently as well as how the pillars complement each other.

Specific Objectives:

The specific objectives of the study are to reflect and report on, but not limited to:
The achievements against the specified objectives of the VUP programme.
 The significance of each pillar in order to achieve optimal economic effects for HiH members, such as improvements in:
o Household income and savings.
o Income generating activities.
o Food consumption and dietary diversity for the members and their families.
o Access to credit.
 The significance of each pillar in order to achieve optimal social effects for HiH members, such as improvements in:
o Women’s influence in decision making at household level, including financial.
o Women’s voice in community decision making.
o Women’s self-esteem and dignity.
o Gender equality at the community level.
o Health and hygiene for the members and their families.
o Access to education for their children.
 The synergies between the five pillars and the appropriateness of the integrated approach at village level. To what extent are the pillars integrated and to what extent are they parallel or separate from each other? Are there other actors in or around the VUP village areas working within the same thematic areas as HiH India? If so, which ones and how? Are there any pillar(s) that should be given more attention to than the others to achieve maximum impact in terms of economic and social impacts in the VUP?
 The development, operations and sustainability of the members’ enterprises.
 How, if at all, women have changed in terms of their wellbeing and empowerment. Which pillar has the most impact on women’s wellbeing and empowerment and why?
 How the SHGs are formed and whether people are left out because of their social status/caste.
 If and how families and communities’ perception of mainstreaming children into school have changed after the VUP intervention, and if there are any changes in the level of school attendance.
 If and how the panchayats, especially focus on women and children, have improved in terms of health, and if people have better awareness of nutrition and hygiene behaviour.
 If and how the environment has changed in the communities and if the level of awareness and knowledge of environmental issues have improved among the community members.
 If and how democratic participation (such as voting at community and government level and participating in community decision making) has improved at the grass-roots level among the most marginalized women and men.
 If and how community cohesion and integration among different social groups have been effected.
 If and how the different committees have sustained, and what kind of achievements they have attained after the completion of the programme.
 If and how the programme has had positive or negative side effects on the members and their communities.
 If any other unexpected development, positive and negative, have been achieved as a consequence of the VUP programme.
 If the length of the projects (24 months) is sufficient to reach optimal effects.
The study will also make recommendations on how the programme can be improved based on the programme’s strengths and weaknesses. It should reflect on the allocation of resources (financial and human resources), whether it is distributed in a sufficient way to reach optimal effects. It should also make recommendations for sustainable exit strategies at the village level.

Methodology of the Study:
The selected villages for the study will have undergone a 24 months VUP project. Approximately 10 village panchayats will be selected from each of the completion years, i.e. 2013 and 2014. They will all be selected from Tamil Nadu state as that is the only state that has VUPs that are completed from these years. Collected data should be segregated and analysed according to the time of completion of the project and according to the geographical area within Tamil Nadu to understand the different impacts the programme might have.Data must be collected from various sources and through various methods to get a holistic picture of the impacts of the programme, and to enhance reliability and validity of the evaluation findings. This means that different methods and sources will be used in the collection of the data. Qualitative and quantitative indicators will be collected through the methodology of focus groups discussions (FGDs), household and key informant interviews. Participants in the evaluation shall comprise of women in different ages and groups from the programme, key stakeholders (e.g. village leaders, teachers, mobilisers, HiH staff) and community members (e.g. men and non-beneficiary women).The final report generated after the completion of respective selected VUP for the study should serve as a baseline to understand the progress and sustainability ever since. In addition, findings from other monitoring and evaluation data and reports also need to be examined and taken in to account for the success if this study. Indicators will be developed in line with the expected objectives for the study, and with the support from HiH India and Sweden.