Project Area of Lokadrusti
Lokadrusti is working in Nuapada District (erstwhile part of Kalahandi District of Orissa). Below is the map of India, Orissa and Nuapada.
Focus Area of Lokadrusti
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Issue wise Intervention Projects
Though Lokadrusti is running a number of projects to address different problem and problem areas, there are a number of projects addressing the same problem in one way or the other. We must look at these projects from the problem point of view to get a better understanding of the project. Moreover, it is more pertinent to know the issue/ problem here. The issues/problems have been discussed in the following heads:-
- Strengthening of people’s organization through ‘Social Mobilization’.
- Towards Natural Resource Management.
- Tribal Rights.
- Education and Child Labour.
- Food Security.
Strengthening of people’s organization through ‘Social Mobilization’
We acknowledged the fact that breakdown of the village level traditional forums have destabilized the socio-economic fabric of this region. These grass root forums served as pressure groups and played a crucial role in shaping the destiny of their own villages in the past. Hence we wanted to begin from this aspect and much of our efforts in the 1st phase of project intervention were directed in this regard.
Social mobilization is of utmost importance in organizing people’s forums. It is also an important parameter of development strategy. It is on the other hand not an easy one. It needs a lot of preparation and rapport building with the local people. The activists must, in the first place, be accepted to the people. This can be done when they feel that they are going to the people with the assumption that people know and they do not know. This trust on the knowledge level of the stakeholders forms the key to any development. This provides a broader canvas for people to put they experiences and ideas into the development plan. We accepted this bottom up approached and began to organize people, women, tribal groups on issues like public distribution system, forest protection, tirade against corruption, land entitlement etc. In the process emerged a number of grass root organisations who realized that they have a role to play in this movement. This changed the equation to a considerable degree.
Nuapada district has basically an agrarian and forest economy. Much of the population depends on agriculture and forest. In the rural areas this dependence is cent percent. They live in subsistence economy in the absence of any alternative sources of meaningful employment. This makes them vulnerable at the slightest disturbance in equilibrium. As has been discussed earlier, due to endemic drought and shrinking of forest resources and usufruct rights the people of this region find themselves on a long famished road. We wanted to organize people especially women and formed micro groups comprising of 10-12 members. The ‘Kutum Panthi’ (clan fund) happened to be a common fund of food grains in the village from which people borrowed at the time of distress. In the initial phase of intervention in the early nineties it was not possible immediately to start cash deposit by the people. Also taking into consideration the prevalence of barter economy we encouraged women to deposit ‘Muthi Chaul’ (handful of rice) every day at the household level which later was deposited at a common place every month. This gradually grew and became adequate enough to rescue them from starvation in the lean season. They stopped going and being exploited by the money lenders. Lokadrusti mobilized employment intensive programme through both government and donor agencies. The vicious circle of debt-trap was broken and it helped women in increasing their real income. They became capable to make cash contribution. We called these groups Self help Groups (SHG). This isolated efforts gained momentum and within years took many villages in its sway. Every village now has one or more number of SHGs. Besides thrift and credit they also engage themselves in other activities of common interest in the socio-political fronts. A lot of inputs like training on group management, accounting, income generating activities have been provided to the SHGs. They have been taken on exposure trips both within and outside the state to interact with the SHGs carrying out similar activities successfully .Above other thing this micro credit approach has inculcated banking habit among the group members and has imbibed in them the much needed spirit of self confidence.
The Social Bank
In course of time the number of SHGs increased from 5 in 1997 to 861 at present covering 265 villages of four out of five blocks of Nuapada district. Their domain also came out of a prescribed orbit and spread to many areas. The need to institutionalise them became essential to give them a more focused role. The SHGs networking was worked out from village to the federation level. The federation level organisation represented members from all SHGs. This federation approach strengthened the SHGs further in terms of their savings and bargaining power with the financial institutions. This federation level organisation is called the “Samajik Bank”. It mobilizes fund from its individual members and different financial organisation. It acts as a guarantor for the commercial banks lending money to the individual SHGs. Till date there are 861 SHGs in this Samajik Bank. The following are the objectives of the Samajik Bank.
- To strengthen the socio-economic base of the marginalized section of the society especially St, Sc and economically backward women.
- To out as a micro-finance institution.
- To mobilize fund from different sources.
- To enhance group saving among rural women.
- To create a base for better credit uptake to those who do not have access to the formal banking structure.
- To enhance socio-economic status of women in the society.
- To improve the credit absorbing capacity of village economy and prepare the people for commercial venture through rural enterprises.
- To improve banking habit of the people.
- To check the exploitation of money lenders and businessmen.
The social bank has four important components like Grain , Seed, Medicine and Cash . These are the four vital factors making rural people susceptible to exploitation on regular basis. Through the provision of these components the rural people are given opportunity to borrow on easy terms . We got continuous support from the agencies like HIVOS, Bangalore, UNDP, New Delhi, Ministry of Rural development, Government of india and KKS, Germany, NABARD Bhubaneswar to organise women in SHG and promote micro finance activities.
The sustained efforts of Lokadrusti has been to empower women. The first step in this regard was the organisation of women through micro finance activities. But gender disparity was so much that it was not sufficient enough to bring women to the fore front of development. In a male hegemony society the traditional village leaders dictate terms. Women issues are discussed in the absence of women. Domestic violence by drunken husbands are common. Women participation in the political institutions like Pallisabha and Gramsabha is a rare phenomenon. We have worked a lot to give equal status to women. We first took the male members especially the traditional village leaders into confidence . A number of trainings were organised to sensitise the society. In due course of time all these activities worked out. The perspectives began to change. Women participation in the Palli Sabha and Gram Sabha increased. Even there are examples when the proceedings of these institution had to be countermanded as the women were not intimated. The women are quite visible these days. From a few woman leaders now almost every village has a woman leader. The women are no more toys in the hands of men. They are contesting election in the Panchayati Raj institution. Domestic violence has been reduced. Women in village after village are waging crusade against liquor. They have taken active role in their village welfare. They are mobilizing fund for their village development. They now monitor the schools, streamline out of school children. They are ready to assume multifarious role today. They have taken a big leap forward, it can be said.
HIVOS intervention was crucial in this aspect. The project “Empowerment of Marginalized Section of the Society” from 2000 to 2005 went a long way in empowering women in 40 villages of Sinapali block. The project partners were the CBOs like SVMS and JJMVMS which were promoted through previous HIVOS intervention and have already been registered under the Society Act. In each village woman committees were formed. The main thrust of the project was to build up the capacity of the women through SHG promotion training etc. The SHGs were not confined merely to economic activities. They also were given a social dimension to supervise and monitor the school activities, public distribution system, old age pension and other development programme of the government. In this project the most vulnerable communities like ST and SC were given priority. The crucial objectives of the project was to make economically self-reliant women community through access to means of production and credit facilities. At the end of the project period a number of grass root level organizations have come up and some women leaders have emerged at the block and cluster level.
Natural Resource Management
The lives of the rural people revolve around natural resources. Its management has a lot to do on their lives. Their livelihood is determined largely by the Non-Timber Forest Produces (NTFP) like Mahua flower, Char, Harida, Bahada, Tol etc. They procure NTFP both for consumption as well as selling. But since the last few decades this sector is failing to sustain their lives. The same is found in agriculture sector also . Absence of irrigation, poor land quality make agriculture non remunerative. In both forest and agricultural produces the people suffer distress sale.
Most of the lands in Nuapada district are upland with low productivity. Irrigation facility is almost non-existent (less than 15% against the state average of 30%), land right is not clear and there are many villages which are on encroached land even if people have been staying there since generations. The pre-eighties settlement failed to reach these unfortunate people. From the legal perspective the women have the right over land. But there is no land right in the name of women. These are the problems found in land sector and this has reduced agriculture a great deal.
In case of forest also the same trend is found. The tribal people have been living in close proximity with nature. Nature forms an integral part of their lives. But there are a number of restrictions imposed upon them so far as their usufruct right is concerned. A case in question is the Sunabeda plateau which now is under Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary. There are many villages in this area which fall in the core region of the sanctuary. The tribals are under continuous threat of being displaced. Leaving their forest abode is the last thing these people can accept. In addition to this people are restricted to collect NTFP, move around in the forest, collect fuel wood etc. The situation is similar in other forest area also. But it is ironical to note that illegal tree felling still goes unabated and unfortunately the forest officials seem unconcerned. But on the other hand the poor tribals who are basically forest dwellers are debarred from their natural rights. Life here moves around water since the region has an agrarian economy. But irregular rain, bad water management, monopoly of the big farmers over traditional water bodies and lack of irrigation facility has brought life to a grinding halt. Lokadrusti has tried to address the issue in various ways. It has initiated micro watershed in some villages. It has provided financial support to the self help group members to dig well, procure pump sets, prepare bio-fertilizers through different compost method, purchase seed, undertake land development etc. This has solved the matter to some extent. But still there is lot to be done in this regard.
Lokadrusti organizes training, workshops seminars, orientation programme, village discussion meeting etc. to sensitise the community on their rights over land, forest and water. People are trained to take part in joint forest management, community forest management to protect their forest. They have also developed some awareness so far as selling NTFP is concerned. As far as land right is concerned there has been some break through. Some landless people have been allotted government land and some more have applied for land rights. Even women have got joint entitlement rights in some cases. In order to make people get their own rights and claim for the same before the government we make continuous effort.
In this context we are presently implementing a project ‘Social Mobilization Around Natural Resource Management for Poverty Alleviation’. It is a follow up of the earlier UNDP project under the sub programme of CBPPI which was implemented from 2000 to 2003. During this project the CBOs were empowered and a number of infrastructure base like village pond, WHS, dug well, cluster level godowns were developed. It becomes imperative to write a few lines about WHS. The rain water harvesting structures are earthen dams of dug-cum embankment variety. The technology is low cost and it has been developed by Lokadrusti with the indigenous knowledge of the tribal people . All sites for construction of rain water harvesting structures have been at wasteland zone . That means the sites are located in a zone where the land has been submerged and infertile waste land with high contour. During the construction of this structure almost all the mud, stone required for the embankment have been dug from inside the reservoir. This has not only augmented the storage capacity of the irrigation structures but also has greatly cut down the construction cost. We have used all the soil that we have got from digging of reservoir to its optimum potential. In some rain water harvesting structures we have used stone patching and in some grass patching to reduce the cost. There is a provision made for a free board in the event of higher than expected rainfall. However in-case of flash food the farmers easily lower the exit and let the surplus water safely flow through. Towards the end of the season, when they sense that a recurrence of such flash flood is unlikely they have the option of once again increasing storage capacity by raising the exit. Due to this flexibility the rain water harvesting structures remain safe even during the flood situation. During dry spells in August-September these structures are of immense help to the small & marginal tribal farmers.
During the present project efforts are made to utilize the existing structure to strengthen the natural resources base of the villages. There are 174 villages of Komna, Khariar, Boden and Sinapali Blocks in this project. The main objectives of the project are:
- Organising the women groups and strengthening their capabilities through social mobilization.
- Developing the natural resources base in the project villages.
- Improving access to resources and livelihoods of the SHGs.
- Fostering partnership with the PRI and Govt.
We are also implementing 10 Watershed Development projects with the financial assistance of “WORLP” in Sinapali Block from January 2004 covering a treatable area of 5638 hectors. The project will continue till 2009. Through these watersheds integrated efforts are made to increase the livelihood base of the watershed villages. Again one watershed in village Dharuapada is financed by NABARD Bhubaneswar to improved the livelihood of drought effected people.
Nuapada district has a thick tribal population. In the operational area of Lokadrusti the tribal groups form the bulk of the population. These people are vulnerable to exploitation. There are primitive tribal groups like Bhunjia and Paharia apart from other tribes like Gond, Dal, Kandh etc. The Bhunjias and paharias live in the inaccessible areas of hills and jungles. They live a secluded life amidst these hills and jungles. They are not at all conscious of their rights. The Bhunjias are of two types- Chuktia Bhunjia and Chinda Bhunjia. The Chuktias live in the deep forest and speak a language different from the others. It is called ‘Halbi’; a combination of Chhatisgarhi, Koshli and Marathi. But the Chinda Bhunjias are in the process of acculturation and live closer to the mainstream civilization.
The Paharias are the unfortunate lot. Ironically they are not included in the state tribal list and that way are not ST officially. They are treated as Other Backward Caste ( OBC) . This is due to a language confusion . The Paharias are also known as ‘Kamar’ and it in the coastal Orissa and official Oriya language means Blacksmith. The Blacksmiths are not tribe and therefore the Paharias are not included in the tribal schedule. Prior to the formation of a separate Orissa state in 1936 the paharias were considered as ST and even today they are ST in the neighbouring Chhatisgarh state. They are treated as primitive tribe there. Even the Chhatisgarh Government is implementing a micro project for the development of Paharia community. Of late with Lokadrusti initiative, the Paharias have united under the banner of “Paharia/ Kamar Vikash”. They are raising their voice against the injustice meted out to them. During the current year their delegates went to Bhubaneswar twice and met the Chief Minister, the Tribal Affairs Minister and also the Secretary Tribal Development. They claimed their right over their inclusion in the scheduled list. The Chief Minister and other responsible authorities have assured them to consider their demand with sympathy.
Education and Child Labour
Education both of the adults and the children has been the concern of our organisation. We always orient the people in different platforms and SHG meetings to learn how to read and write. We also focus on the education of children in the age group of 6-14. We consider all children in this age group who are out of school as child labourers irrespective of whether they work or not . The education scenario as has already been mentioned is bleak. We take a number of approaches in this line to streamline them into school. We take the help of local folk media like Ghumura, Pala, Das-kathi, Street play, Puppet show to sensitise the community. We also put pressure on the government to improve the school infrastructure and place teacher-in position in the rural areas. We involve the entire community, specifically the SHG members to monitor these programmes. Our effort is to create an atmosphere where the government , NGOs, CBOs women groups, parents and children come together to take up the challenge and make Nuapada a child-labour-free district.
A UNDP project ” Media and Advocacy Campaign for Getting Children out of Work and into School” was implemented in 300 villages of Nuapada district by Lokadrusti, Adarsha and Mahila Vikash (other NGO organisations). Lokadrusti spearheaded the entire movement as the mother NGO. There were 12615 (boys 6376+Girls 6240) number of child labourers identified at the beginning of the projects through a baseline survey. Rallies, village meetings, workshops were organized and campaign was intensified through folk media to sensitise the community regarding child labour. There was also some supply side intervention to make the schools child-friendly. Drinking water facilities, study materials, sports materials and dress materials were provided to all the schools to attract children. Children’s clubs were promoted in all the project villages which served as platform for children both in and out of school. This increased child to child motivation. In order to involve the members from the Government sector and the civil society Block Level Campaign Committee (BLCC) and District Level Campaign Committee (DLCC) were formed. The district Collector being the chairmen of the DLCC was monitoring the project activities. Academicians, journalists, CBOs were involved to make the advocacy more broad based. Mr. Sumit Bose, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Rural development, Government of India visited the project area and took positive note. On line of his suggestion this campaign worked in close convergence with the ‘Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan’ and District Primary Education Programme. This made the project more sustainable even after its withdrawal. Out of the total identified child labour we were able to streamline 9624 (boys 4889, girls 4735) children at the end of the project. 1524 children became out of age and therefore it was not possible to streamline them.
Through this project intervention we knew that seasonal migration is a major factor adding to the existing child labour force. To address this issue in particular Lokadrusti implemented a pilot project “Education of Migrant Children in Khariar Block of Nuapada District” with the financial assistance of America Indian Foundation, Delhi. This project was launched in October 2004 in seven most migration prone villages of Khariar block on experimental basis. Residential Child Care (RCC) Centres were opened, one in each village to take care of the children of migrant parents. These children stayed and read in the near by government schools from November to June while their parents were away in search of livelihood. The success of this project inspired us to replicate this model. Currently we have opened such RCC in 9 more villages. This time AIF has given us a bridge fund subject to be used in future extension and running RCCs when we do not get money from DPEP/SSA. There are 545 children in these centres. This is a programme which is providing the poor children the opportunity to read who would otherwise have been away from school. This programme is highly appreciated by the people and we hope to replicate this model in all the migration prone villages of the district. We appeal all to extend help for such replication.
Lokadrusti works for the food security of the people. In the earlier sections the concept of social bank and the role of SHGs has been discussed in great details. They are important pillars in the line of providing food security for the people. Community farming , Grain bank, Social bank, dug well, ponds, Goat rearing etc are encouraged and necessary support and training are given to the people. It is also implementing watershed project under the Western Orissa Rural Livelihood project in Sinapali Block.
The project entitled ‘Food Security through Empowerment of Women and Children’ was launched on the 1st January 2003 under the sponsorship of KKS, Germany in 10 villages of Khariar Block. Earlier it was implemented in only 5 villages since Jan-2003. Formation of SHGs and their capacity building was the thrust of this project. During the project intervention grain banks were promoted at the village as well as at the cluster level. The people borrow grain at the time of distress and thus starvation death could be checked. The major objectives of the project were to improve the food security through improvement of livelihood and empowerment of women. We were able to stem migration and check dropout of children in the school. The SHGs promoted in the process in due course of time merged with the Social Bank, a federation of self help groups.
Health infrastructure is virtually absent in Nuapada district. Excepting urban centres the villages are deprived of basic health facilities. They either depend upon the mercy of the God or fall prey to the unauthorized medical practitioners. Bad communication , lack of awareness level make them more vulnerable to exploitation. High rate of IMR and MMR are common. In order to address the situation, Lokadrusti has trained the Para health workers and have given them the minimum required kits to come to the help of the people. It has also promoted Traditional Birth Attendants ( TBA) to facilitate safe delivery in the villages. But the programmes are quite inadequate in the context of the present problems.
The project “Integrated Nutrition and Health project-II” has been running since 2002 with the support of CARE India. Under this project 31 Demonstration Sites (Anganwadi centre) are covered from Khariar, Boden and Sinapali ICDS area. The total population covered in this project is 31689. Through this project efforts are made to improve the nutrition and health status of women and children. We are trying to activate the Anganwadi Workers to cater to the need of primary health care and creating awareness among the people Change Agents. The SHG members in the villages are trained to change their mindset on health aspect. They in turn work as change agents to change the mindset of the mothers in their hamlets. This project has been recently extended to all the blocks of Nuapada district. The major thrust is to change the attitude of the Anganwadi Workers. The other important objectives of the project are:
- Developing location specific Behavior Change Communication (BCC) plans.
- Reducing left -outs and dropouts from health and ICDS schemes.
- Integrating Gender.
- Encouraging PRIs and CBOs to participate in the project activities.
- Involving adolescent girls.