With more than 50 years in the development sector, we are continuously working to bring about a sustainable change in the lives of disadvantaged groups by making them aware of their rights and enabling them to help themselves by providing them with the requisite skills and knowledge.
In the process we also work with civil society institutions by empowering them to work efficiently with the disadvantaged groups and address their issues effectively.
We work in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh with disadvantaged groups – dalits, small farmers, adivasis and underprivileged women.
For the year 2013-17, we have identified the following thematic priorities:
- Increasing the food availability and creation of sustainable livelihoods for underprivileged groups.
- Increasing Participation of women and underprivileged communities in governance systems at the village level.
- Gender equality projects with focus on reducing domestic violence
- Strengthening the civil society infrastructure
In the year 2013, there were some notable achievements. 65 communities got management rights over approx. 28,000 hectares of forest land in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. 1,435 tribal women and men received land titles for the land they have farmed for generations. Forest Communities in 2 locations began to exercise these rights by marketing of tendu and bamboo which contributed to higher income for the participating families. To develop the land received under FRA (Forest Rights Act), we leveraged funds under MGNREGA. We had established demonstration plots on System of Rice Intensification and line sowing in maize in four areas. The techniques used were appreciated by the participating farmers which resulted in saving in terms of seed and labour, but untimely rains affected yield. Farmers in Wardha and Yavatmal became more convinced with the benefits of ecological farming, visible in the increase in the number and area under non pesticidal management and ecological farming.
On our gender equality front, 819 cases of domestic violence were provided counselling, legal counselling, medical and shelter support by our community support groups of men and women. A Study on service providers under the PWDV (Protection of Women under the Domestic Violence) Act was carried out in 5 districts of Maharashtra based on which advocacy will be taken up in the coming year. In line with the current strategy, we began to engage with service providers such as lawyers, health professionals and judiciary to promote better implementation of the law. Recognizing that NT (Nomadic Tribes) and DNT (De-notified Nomadic Tribes) communities are much marginalized group in Maharashtra, a process of developing deeper understanding of their problems and possible solutions was initiated, which culminated in the development of a consortium project.
In 2014, we will continue to focus on strengthening the ecological farming programme by developing a progress assessment system and supporting producer organizations to help farmers get a premium for their produce. The issue of enhancing food security of tribal families will be taken forward by developing an integrated farming system model for tribal areas. In the Domestic Violence programme we will continue the sensitization trainings of men in order to reduce household work burden of women and increase their mobility. We have realized that engaging with service providers is a wide area and we need to define clearly our expectations and outcomes. We will work on developing/collating appropriate tools to measure progress of the DV programme in two areas (community support groups of women and engaging with men). Under decentralized governance, we will develop a strategy paper for our work on strengthening gram sabhas and capacity building of elected representatives.