Employment guarantee during Covid-19: Role of MGNREGA in the year after the 2020 lockdown

As the Covid-19 pandemic fades from media headlines and perhaps even public consciousness, it is important to ensure that lessons learned are not forgotten. India’s social protection systems were put to a gruelling test during the two years of the pandemic. We gained valuable insights into what worked and what did not. Two programmes stand out in the role they played protecting vulnerable households from the worst of the pandemic’s effects. These are the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

This report documents the main findings of a study of eight blocks across four states of India on MGNREGA functioning during the pandemic year (Financial Year 2020-21). A key motivation of the study was to determine the extent to which working in the programme provided income support or security to vulnerable households during the pandemic.