Background

STRENGTHENING LOCAL SELF GOVERNANCE PROGRAMME

The project entitled “Strengthening Local Self Governance in Sundargarh district” commenced under the guidance and support from Concern World Wide in India in Dec-Jan 2005, initially in ‘awareness mode’ covering 159 villages from 26 selected Gram Panchayats situated in 14 Community Blocks. A network of 12 (initially 14) area based Non-Government Organizations had been constituted as per Concern’s provision to carry out the program activities in the target areas. Two years later, the network took on the ‘action mode’ under the umbrella of “Panchayati Raj Abhiyan, Sundargarh” to intensify goal-driven activities redefined realistically in the light of field experience and feedbacks.

Overall Objective Of The Project

Enhancement of livelihood security and quality of life of deprived masses of the Society, through strengthening the Panchayat and other Village Level Institutions in Sundargarh district.

Specific Objectives

Sarpanch of Gambharidihi GP Distributing MGNREGA work order to a FRA beneficiary for Land Development.
  • To enhance the accessibility of underprivileged people on Entitlements i.e. MGNREGA, FRA, and Food & social security schemes.
  • To create durable and productive community assets by undertaking integration of Watershed Approach and Ecological consideration in MGNREGA, FRA and other government schemes.
  • To ensure vibrant functioning of Panchayat and Village Institutions (village and GP level MGNREGA workers committee, GP level FRC committee, GP level standing committees, SHG), in planning and managing community assets as well as to access the benefit of other Governmental Schemes.
  • To Strengthen the Network (Panchayati Raj Abhiyan, Sundargarh), for a better say in the developmental process of the District through collaborative efforts (Cross learning, organization development, use of partners expertise, linkage with other networks
Stake-Holders Of The Project

The program sought to involve a broad range of actors in the implementation process. Among its stake holders were, the single headed womanhousehold, forest dwellers, BPL card holders, old-age/widowhood pension holders, pensioners under MadhuBabu Pension Yojana (MBPY),physically challenged persons, NREGA workers, ward members, sarpanches, panchayatsamiti members, SHG/CBO members, forest rights committee (FRC) members, GaonSathi (GS), Gram RojgarSewak (GRS), Gram Sanjojaka, and Panchayat and Block officials.

Program Strategies
  • Community Mobilization:The component sought to achieve adequate information of the program participants on provisions of PalliSabha, Gram Sabha, MGNREGA, FRA, and Food & Social Security Schemes. It was a knowledge-driven empowerment of people so that they appreciate the need to raise their voices against injustice, demand for entitlements, take part in decision-making, and become a part in the implementation and evaluation of different governmental schemes. Focus Group Discussions at Hamlet level were included as a handy exercise in this respect.
  • Strengthening Village institutions: It was based on the postulate that only vibrant village institutions would be able to safeguard the interest of the common people. So step were undertaken to galvanize the existing institutions, like FRC, SHGs, and the Vigilance & Monitoring Committee etc. and bring them together on a common platform, specifically in respect of the proper execution of Gramsabha and Pallisabha provisions. Simultaneously, focus was laid on strengthening of the Panchayat Standing Committee and working out convergence between village and GP level institutions. Formation of MGNREGA workers’ committee that could work as a pressure group at different level of the administration, and influence planning, implementation and evaluation of the scheme was accorded priority.
  • Capacity Building of Stake-holders: The component called for capacity building of certain categories of stake holders, such as, program staff, GaonSathi, Gram RojgarSewak (GRS), FRC members, and Cadres on landscape planning, environment management, forest protection, and other pertinent subjects.
  • Collaboration and Cooperation with Government and Other Actors: It envisaged periodic meetings with government officials at district and block levels to enlist their cooperation and support for the program. Regular dialogue with responsible Government officials was recommended to sort out the issue arising in the field. It also envisioned a line of effort seeking collaboration with Departments like animal husbandry, forest, soil conservation, sericulture etc. to build up strong linkage of NREGA in the operational areas. Collaboration with other NGOs, institutions, and like-minded networks was also prescribed for effective and wider implementation of the project objective.
  • Media Management: Both Electronic and Print media were to be used to capture the issues and achievements of the Program. It called for regular interactions with reporters of local newspapers, publication of clips and analytical articles on NREGA, FRA and Food Security Schemes and so on.
Focus Area & Achievement

Sarpanch of Gambharidihi GP Distributing MGNREGA work order to a FRA beneficiary for Land Development.

In the year 2011-12, the program turned more focus on MGNREGA, Forest Rights Act, all eight (8) aspects of Food Security Scheme, and the Right to Information.

In that year, the network facilitated job demands by 46903 workers under MGNREGA and succeeded in generating 516128 man-days of work. An staggering sum of Rupees 4,74,88,153 was made over to these workers as wage. In November-December 2011, the Sundargarh district administration again sought cooperation of the network for conducting social audit under MGNREGA in all 262 GPs, and the network partners employing all their manpower and effort made it a huge success. However, most obvious of the achievements was the grant of land right to 895 forest dwellers under provisions of Forest Right Act. The implementing partners had put much effort to the process involving themselves enthusiastically with the claimants, right from formation and sensitization of FRCs, to joint verification of land, and submission of claim forms. The event was rejoiced with over-night celebrations in many tribal hamlets. During the same period, 1461 individuals were linked under MadhuBabu Pension Yojana, and not the least, it encouraged 393 RTI applications from program participants in the target area.

Basically, a new generation of livelihood program, it sought to address livelihood issues from the perspective of governance, putting much weightage on developing capacities of the individual and community, so that they would work out their access to a hitherto under-exploited range of livelihood security offered by way of entitlement under the laws of the land. Encouragement of these activities during the project term led to the emergence of an unprecedented and manifold event culture marked by new initiatives, dialogues, lobbies, negotiations, enterprisingness, and thrift in the communities. The effect of this event culture was clearly discernible in the real and material life of program participant. Not only new dimensions of peoples’ power were explored; in many instances, it was secured to a stake on ground to care for itself. The project served to influence people’s thinking tremendously, and as has been said, ‘Man’s mind stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions*; its impact would be durable and far reaching in scope.