District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has traditionally been the principal organ at the district level to oversee the implementation of anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development. This agency was originally created to implement the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). Subsequently, the DRDAs were entrusted with a number of programmes of both state and central governments. The task of DRDA has been to identify the needs of the rural population and reach the appropriate schemes where they are needed. In implementing the schemes, the role of the DRDA has been technical, managerial and financial. Thus, DRDA is not only a body to disburse the funds for the schemes but also provides appropriate managerial and technical support.

The governing body of DRDA includes Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), District level officials of Development Departments, Bankers, NGOs and representatives of weaker sections of the society. The Governing body at the district level provides guidance and directions to DRDA.

From April 1999[1] a separate DRDA Administration has been introduced to take care of the administrative costs. This aims at strengthening the DRDAs and make them more professional in managing the anti-poverty programmes and be an effective link between the ministry and the district level.

Rural development and poverty alleviation programmes are implemented on a decentralised basis, keeping in view the large geographical areas, the administrative requirements and the need to involve grassroots-level officials and the community in the implementation of the programmes. At the central level, the Ministry of Rural Areas & Employment has been implementing these programmes. The Ministry is responsible for the release of the central share of funds, policy formulation, overall guidance, monitoring and evaluation of the programmes. At the State level, the Principal Secretary, Rural Development and the Commissioner of Rural Development are overall in-charge of the implementation of the rural development programmes. At the District level, the programmes are implemented through the DRDAs (District Rural Development Agencies).