Improving socioeconomic outcomes across India's poorest districts| NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts Initiative

Female farmers share their views on India’s Soil Health Card Scheme with IDinsight Manager Rupika Singh as a part of data collection for NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts program.

Female farmers share their views on India’s Soil Health Card Scheme with IDinsight Manager Rupika Singh as a part of data collection for NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts program.

Client: Multiple (NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, other government departments)
Multiple (Governance, Agriculture, Sanitation, Health and Nutrition, Financial Inclusion)
Dates of service:
September 2017 - September 2019
IDinsight service:
Multiple (see below)
IDinsight contacts:
Ron Abraham, Divya Nair

The Problem

IDinsight is supporting NITI Aayog on the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP). The initiative aims to significantly improve socioeconomic outcomes in 100+ of India’s poorest districts, home to approximately 250 million people.
To serve ADP’s full spectrum of needs, IDinsight has set up the Action-focused, Measurement & Learning Unit (AMAL Unit) with a three-pronged approach:

1) Measurement: tracking socioeconomic outcomes at the district level to help inform district-wise ranking for the ADP. The goal is to facilitate healthy competition between states and districts to achieve outcomes (not only inputs).
Click to learn more about NITI Monitoring.

2) Learning: diagnosing, piloting, and helping scale innovative and/or proven interventions to improve outcomes in four key sectors: Agriculture, Financial Services for the Poor, Health & Nutrition, and Sanitation. The goal is to support optimization of government flagship programs via evidence-driven learning in the Aspirational Districts and beyond.

  • Agriculture: AMAL Unit is conducting a diagnostic and process evaluation on NITI Aayog’s nation-wide Soil Health Card Scheme, which seeks to provide fertilizer application recommendations to farmers based on the specific nutrient deficiencies in their soil.
    Click to read more about NITI Agriculture.

  • Financial Inclusion: AMAL Unit seeks to identify operational and behavioural levers to increase the uptake and usage of financial products and services among the poor across the 27 NITI focus districts. The team also aims to inform national and/or state financial inclusion policy.
    Click to read more about NITI Financial Inclusion.

  • Health & Nutrition: AMAL Unit is working closely with NITI Aayog and other counterparts to identify nutrition-related challenges where IDinsight’s suite of analytical services can support evidence-based decision making. This includes work with POSHAN Abhiyaan, a flagship progam aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among children and pregnant mothers.
    Click to read more about NITI Health.

  • Sanitation: AMAL Unit is working with NITI Aayog to identify low-cost and easy-to-implement interventions aimed at increasing and sustaining use of latrines across the country. This includes identifying behavioral constraints to latrine usage and testing potential interventions.
    Click to read more about NITI Sanitation.

3) Data on Demand: deploying an innovative field-data infrastructure (in the 27 NITI focus districts) to serve the data needs of the “Measurement” and “Learning” prongs above. The goal is to provide high quality, rapid, and regular field insights in a cost-effective manner.
Click to read more about NITI Data on Demand.

4) Capacity Building: supporting policymakers and policy implementers in India to collect, absorb, analyze, and use high quality data to inform decision-making and monitor program performance.
Click to read more about NITI Capacity Building.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight Service

Multiple services (impact evaluations, process evaluations, landscape reviews, monitoring, data analytics etc.)


The project is ongoing. Refer to the individual project link for specific and updated results.