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Current Affairs – 22-02-2018

1. India offers USD $1 million aid to Tonga
India has contributed USD one million for the rehabilitation efforts in Tonga after the Tropical Cyclone Gita caused massive destruction in the Pacific island nation. India has allocated USD 500,000 in the India-UN Development Partnership Fund for the rehabilitation efforts while USD 500,000 will be provided for immediate relief assistance.

About the India-UN Development Partnership Fund:
What is it? The India-UN Development Partnership Fund was set up as a partnership between India and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

What is it for? Managed by UNOSSC, the fund will support Southern-owned and led, demand-driven, and transformational sustainable development projects across the developing world. Focusing on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States, United Nations agencies will implement the Fund’s projects in close collaboration with partnering governments.

Focus areas: Reducing poverty and hunger, improving health, education and equality, and expanding access to clean water and energy.

What’s important?

  • • For Prelims: UN Development Fund, Cyclone Gita.
  • • For Mains: Need for International cooperation in rehabilitation.

2. Mass nesting of olive ridleys begins in Odisha

Starting the mass nesting this year, more than 3,100 female olive ridley turtles have come out of the sea to the sandy beach of the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha.

The Rushikulya coast is considered to be a major nesting site in the world and lakhs of olive ridleys come here every year to lay eggs.

About Olive Ridley turtles:

  • • Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • • They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
  • • The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • • The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.

For Prelims: Olive ridley turtles, Rushikulya coast.

3. Restructured Funding Mechanism of NRDWP

Why in news?

Union Government has given its nod to restructure funding mechanism of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).

What is NRDWP?

  • • TheNational Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) a successor to the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme, was started in 2009.
  • • This is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, with funding on a 50:50 sharing basis between the Centre and the states.
  • • Union government had invested about Rs 1.2 trillion on rural water between years 2009 and 2017.
  • • Until now, NRDWP funds were allocated from the Centre to the states on a “formula” basis, mainly using population, water scarcity and water quality as criteria.

What are the challenges with the programme?

  • • The efficacy of government spending and real outcomes and results on the ground are yet to be achieved through public funding.
  • • Centrally sponsored also face challenges with strengthening implementation, monitoring and, more fundamentally, linking funding to performance.
  • • The provision of rural drinking water under the NRDWP was no exception to the usual “formula” based approach to releasing the Central share of funds, leading to a sense of entitlement among states and little incentive to improve performance.

What is the new approach introduced in funding mechanism?

  • • In the spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism, the Union Cabinet recently decided that a significant proportion of Central resources for rural water supply should be used to incentivise performance by the states on a competitive basis.
  • • Three key reforms have now been introduced:

1. Reimbursement mode – Funds released by the Centre are being done on a reimbursement basis, with the states having to pre-finance implementation.

2. Challenge mode – if a state does not pre-finance, its notional funding envelope under the second instalment goes into a common pot to be shared among other “performing” states (that is, those who successfully pre-finance and implement).

3. Sustainability mode – Funds will be distributed among states based on their performance with respect to the functionality of their completed rural drinking water schemes as assessed through an independent, third party survey.

• This reform agenda is expected to lead to speedier implementation and better and more sustainable rural drinking water services across the country

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