Malnutrition among vulnerable children is often targeted using free school feeding programmes in developing countries. In our Development Seminar, Sisir Debnath presented his research on the role of technology in improving the delivery of school feeding programmes. Using the rollout of a mobile-based monitoring mechanism (Interactive Voice Response System or IVRS) that aids in cross-tallying the number of beneficiaries in the delivery chain, he finds that increase in resulting accountability reduces leakages in school lunch provision in Bihar. He contrasts the provision of meals in districts of Bihar and its contiguous neighbouring states from an independent survey with the official state records. Independently collected data reveals that the technology reform increases the likelihood of lunch provision in a school by 20 percentage points and finds that the increase in take-up is also accompanied by an improvement in the quality and quantity of meals.
Speaker Profile: Sisir Debnath is an Assistant Professor in the Economics and Public Policy area at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. He received his Ph. D., from the University of Virginia in 2013. His primary research interests are in the areas of health, gender, and education in developing countries. Some of his current research involves investigating the effects of the social network in affecting the demand for tertiary care for publicly provided health insurance in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. His other working projects evaluate the role of information and communication technology on the provision of public goods.
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