3ie Impact Evaluation Report for Gram Varta Available
The Gram Varta programme aims to improve women and child health indicators in the Madhepura district of Bihar through community empowerment and behavioural change. The study utilized a randomized control design of 180 villages and conducted survey research in 6,000 households in about 90 villages pre and post- implementation of Gram Varta. The results from the survey were further enhanced by qualitative interviews with participants and facilitators. Using community based participatory action research and learning, health-training meetings were held in local women’s self-help groups, where health challenges related to health, nutrition, water and sanitation (HNWASH) were identified and prioritized for the purpose of developing community-based solutions and evaluations of the strategies.
Results from the impact evaluation found some evidence that Gram Varta increased women’s involvement in the community, heightened their self-confidence to refuse intercourse with their husbands or demand that they use protection, reduced domestic violence, decreased women’s preference for sons, encouraged optimism for pregnant women and their mindfulness of health needs during pregnancy, and lastly, increased mutual trust within the community. Although consistent evidence for improvements in health indicators was not found, the findings highlight the importance of participatory learning approaches and their potential to empower women.
The survey team consisted of 124 Indian students, a local project manager, eight students from the University of Göttingen, and two PhD students. Every day, the enumerators covered 13 villages. A German student from the Center for Modern Indian Studies (Cemis) accompanied the fieldwork for documentation purposes. Prof. Vollmer with co-principal investigator Prof. Subramanyam from IIT Gandhinagar, presented the first results of the Gram Varta trial to a group of study participants in Madhepura, as well as representatives of local and state government organizations in Madhepura and Patna, Bihar.
Subramanyam M, Ebert C, Bommer C, Bogler L, Kumar A, Varghese S, Atre S, Vollmer S (2017) Impact of the Gram Varta programme on health, nutrition and women’s empowerment in India. International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie): New Delhi