The main project known as EMCOR had been in operation from 1st July 2009 to 31st March 2014 (57 months) with the support of IVDT / DFID – UK. Community Radio Programs along with other empowerment initiatives had been undertaken by Chale Chalo under this project basically aimed at reducing poverty of marginalized communities by using government, local and CSOs’ resources in 60 poverty ridden villages in KBK region, Odisha, India. The project enabled the targeted communities
Chale Chalo enabled 60 Number of MHGSs – More Haq Gaon Sangathans (My Rights Village Committees) covering around 6000 poor families linked with 240 SHGs, 240 Listener Clubs and 15 Gram Panchayats’ representatives to access the benefits under MGNREGS, RTI, Forest Land, education, health, nutrition, sanitation and other welfare and development schemes and programs effectively through capacity building, information sharing and empowerment processes.
The EMCOR Follow Up Project started on 1st April 2014 just after the end of the main EMCOR project period of 57 months. The project team has been reduced to three members and 30 new villages have been selected from the area abutting the existing project area. The selection has been made based on those with the greatest need, and those selected have been twinned with existing successful villages. The staff have used the knowledge resources that have been developed over the past five years and the well-established approach to enabling villagers to develop the skills which will enable them to claim and access their rights and entitlements along with accomplishing their duties as responsible citizens.
The approach has two main strands: raising awareness and developing the ability of villagers to organize and take action for addressing their problems contributing poverty reduction and lead dignified life. The project has used the 244 community radio episodes for narrow casting and pedagogic learning that developed on various local issues and legitimate rights and entitlements and guidelines of the government for accessing them and getting benefits by the marginalized families and individuals. The project workers have developed links between new and existing project villages, and worked intensively in the new villages to enable them to organize themselves and develop the skills which are enabling them to bring about positive changes to their communities. Key members of each community have received training to lead their Village Action Committees, and ensured that government programs have been properly implemented. Strong emphasis has been given on involving and supporting women who have proved invaluable in the work to bring about all the positive changes in the project villages.
Sample Baseline Survey had been conducted in eleven villages - Palsapada, Guelpani, Bagadiapada, Pitapada and Sangahatiapada of Sinapali Block and Gadapadar, Phuljhariapada, Kaitpada, Kudaldunguri, Katapada and Pakhanpada of Khariar Block. The survey covered 568 households and 2269 population. Out of the total surveyed families 432 (76%) are found under BPL, Antodaya and other food scheme list and are reeling under abject poverty. Out of 1978 people above 6 years old, 1216 (61%) people are found as illiterates. Majority of them are deprived from their legitimate rights and entitlements and are not organized and capacitated to claim and access the programs for their welfare and poverty reduction due to culture of silence and lack of confidence to hold dialogue with the officials and break the nexus. Schools have not fulfilled RTE provisions and Guelpani village has no school or ICDS center. The poverty reduction programs are not reaching to poor. The survey helped to evolve strategies for addressing the problems and helping the poor to get maximum benefits from the available government, PRIs and local resources.
2 Workshops on Rights and Entitlements of the Marginalized People had been organized at Nuapada GP Conference Hall of Sinapali Block and Birighat GP Conference Hall of Khariar Block. More than 100 participants representing all the project villages of respective block had participated in each workshop. The participants were mainly the PRIs, women SHGs, AWWs, supervisors, ANM, teachers, GPEOs, community leaders, village volunteers, ASHA, CBOs and NGOs representatives. Mr. Khuturam Sunanai, senior journalist and social activist had facilitated the sessions on MGNREGS and RTI. Mr. Rudra Madhab Barik, Chairman, Chale Chalo had facilitated the sessions on RTE and ICDS services. The participants identified their problems / issues in accessing the rights and entitlements and prepared step by step action plan with the help of the project staffs and MHGSs’ leaders of past EMCOR project villages. The workshops sensitized the participants of new villages for the necessity of MHGSs, their capacity building and flow of information about the government programs and schemes. The workshops brought together the multi – stakeholders for addressing the rights and entitlements issues of the poor. After the workshops, the villagers have taken up the issues of teachers’ shortage, MDM irregularities, corporal punishment to students in a school, lack of drinking water, lack of AWC building, non - functioning of ICDS Centers and Schools, deprivation of genuine beneficiaries from pensions and other social welfare schemes and initiated dialogue with concern officials and PRIs for their solutions and achieving successes day by day.
30 MHGSs have been formed and all the 328 members of their managing committees got oriented on management of MGHGs, identification of issues contributing poverty, prioritization of issues, functions of PRIs and concern government offices, appropriate authorities for addressing issues, procedures to bring the issues to the notice of the concern authorities, making applications, visiting offices, holding dialogues, claiming rights and entitlements and persuading at various and sending memorandums to state and central government and approaching to honorable courts and elected representatives for intervention etc.
Intensive exercises have been made by the members of MHGSs in each project village for identification of issues, prioritization and preparing action plan with responsibilities, concern authorities and time frame for addressing the identified issues. This has given clear road map to each of the project village to move forward with solving their long standing problems one after another, recording the processes and achievements and sharing the learning and using the learning for achieving more rights and entitlements.
Beneficiaries and communities have been made aware about the benefits provided under various government welfare programs, schemes and services. They have been mobilized by the project staffs and MHGSs members for approaching the PRIs and government authorities for ensuring their access to rights and entitlements. The collective actions have yielded good results in regularizing PDS, ICDS, MDM and functioning of Schools and ensuring old age pensions, widows pensions, handicapped pensions, national family welfare support money, IAY and Mo Kudia Houses, drinking water, electricity, road connectivity, MGNREGS works and arrear payments, JSY and Mamata Yojana and other developmental works and infrastructural facilities for the villages due to constant demand generation, dialogue and negations with the appropriate authorities and participation in the decision making and governance processes by the poor.
Mr. Ranjit Kumar Swain, Director and Mr. Rudra Madhab Barik, Chairman, Chale Chalo have made monthly and quarterly monitoring visits to the EMCOR Follow up project areas regularly. They used to made assessment of the progress of the project works and visible impacts in achieving rights and entitlements of the poor. They have discussed with the beneficiaries, MHGSs members, PRIs and SHGs representatives, Service Providers, Staffs and volunteers for reviewing the progress and effectiveness of the project and getting feedbacks for future planning. IVDT Team has made annual visit to the project in the month of November 2014. The team thoroughly reviewed the progress of the works and made field visits to assess the results on the ground. IVDT provided inputs to the project staffs, volunteers, beneficiaries and other stakeholders for targeted planning for achieving maximum benefits to the poor.