ASSOCIATION FOR RURAL & TRIBAL DEVELOPMENT

PROJECTS

Action promotes self-help activities among the target groups of hill tribes, fisher folk, women, and so called backward classes. Aiming to establish and sustain welfare initiatives in the future, these self-help groups empower communities, avoiding exploitation by various groups in society. With theses groups as the core activity, ACTION concentrates its efforts in the following four broad categories:

ACTOPM Target Communities

These are outgoing and empowered groups of people, both women and men, who share common interests and backgrounds. They are instrumental in initiating and developing activities in the target area, and motivating indifferent members towards development, hoping to sustain this in the long run, eventually so that the external support can withdraw, enabling communities to run their own affairs confidently. No developmental activity can be carried out without involvement of local people, and so formation of self-help groups is done immediately after some rapport building in the community. Initially, such interaction is not popular, especially with men, but interest and support flourishes once the groups become productive and successful. SHG’s must be as apolitical as possible, provoking no more conflicts that may already exist in the local communities.

To ensure unity and smooth functioning, the SHG must nominate two members to manage their affairs. They are chosen by consensus, in order to represent the group fairly.

  At this stage, training can begin in which members benefit through their own contributions. Members who attend can thus help to motivate and develop activities for the entire community. A vital task is to ensure that the SHG’s work cohesively towards the same shared goals, rather than competing and fighting.  

Over the years, ACTION ha identified several problems involving investment and debt. Previously, target villages spent all savings, resulting in the need to borrow money from corrupt middlemen who charged very high interest. Consequently, the association implemented programmes to emphasize the importance of self-reliance, saving and bookkeeping. From its inception, ACTION realized the vital importance of financial independence, and extends its support to the self-help groups. Encouragingly, the SHG’s have been diligent and enthusiastic in following this advice, and have also ensured that fellow members pay back loans to the association. Providing grants to the Sanghas’, a habit of saving has been inculcated. This has led to group funds being created, with saved funds being given to members during their times of need. Sangha’s have a Treasurer and President, responsible for calling meetings for loans. They set the interest rates, and the group as a whole decide on apportion of funds and loan amounts. Proper records of meeting minutes are maintained. This project has been so successful that links have been forged with national banks, the Sanghas now possessing growing funds and bank accounts.


Case study of female Sangha member

Women group interaction continues to strengthen the SHG’s, equipping women with the communication and legal skills needed for effective discussion. With women being generally more receptive to association ideas, this continues to be an effective means of disseminating information and empowerment.

Case study of female Sangha member

ACTION is striving to change cultural attitudes towards child labour in the target communities, by encouraging parents to send their children to school to receive an education. Both Oxfam and Save the Children have been involved in the formation of policies for this process.

In collaboration with UNICEF, ACTION is seeking to implement projects to make disaster preparedness more child-sensitive. Village communities are integral to this process, with individuals contributing their own ideas. Many of these are the result of direct experiences of disasters, such as the 2005 Tsunami or the flash floods. Interaction concerning this matter is being undertaken at the present time.

CHILD FESTIVAL

“BADI BAATA” WITH DISTRICT EDUCATION DEPT

CHILD FRIENDLY INTERACTIVE SESSION WITH PRI

CHILD LED DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

In conjunction with AIDS awareness and World Aids Week, ACTION launched Global moment for children, a twenty-day program of events with the target audience of school pupils in the West and East Godavari regions. After providing relevant training for teachers and organizing rallies and parades, target villages joined a worldwide ‘Lesson for life’ in schools. Magic shows, essay writing and speech making competitions also took place, and culminated in involvement with white band day celebrations.

I.T.D.A, the Integrated Tribal Authority of India, provided the necessary materials for cashew nut tree growing. Target villagers spend their leisure time at these nurseries, and apportion work between them, appointing two members to oversee transactions. Villagers are being encouraged to cultivate their own nurseries, as part of PODU land cultivation and also a means of financial gain, as I.D.T.A are purchasing back many of the plants. A vulnerability reduction fund (V.R.F) has also been established, in an attempt to regenerate damaged and eroded areas of arable land.

PODU cultivated land

In several villages, grain banks have been constructed, giving villagers the option to store up grain, thus save their funds to place in the bank.

ACTION field staff still interacts frequently with local villagers to apportion agricultural loans to the agricultural projects already in place. Training and instruction is also given concerning animal health and welfare of the livestock.


ACTION staff celebrating a project.

These essential insurances are now offered to the target villages, all of which are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, Tsunami’s and flash flooding. The ethos for this has developed alongside the association’s efforts to create effective and affordable cyclone-resistant housing.

True to its aims of empowerment, ACTION seeks to develop community preparedness for disasters, avoiding reliance on government and military relief efforts. Currently in its third phase with CADME, the association has constructed a sophisticated disaster response program. Pre,during  and Post training has been taught to village Task Forces, who disperse the message throughout the community, much as the Sanghas do. Most target areas in the A.P region are intensely prone to natural disasters, especially cyclones and floods, and so this training has to be linked directly to development activities in general. As the flash floods of September 05 and the December Tsunami have clearly shown, the need for such training is intense.

ACTION played a pivotal role in preparing the coastal target villages with disaster training, and was instrumental in providing support during flash flooding and the Tsunami relief effort. ACTION’s affiliation with CADME (Coastal Area disaster Mitigation Efforts) has proved both fruitful and mutually beneficial. Task Force members are trained in the following fields:

  • First Aid demonstration: Cuts & Injuries, Wounds, Shocks, burns, Snake Bites and Fractures. Members are instructed how to deal with each.
  • Warning system and evacuation procedure
  • Demonstration of Floating Aids

ACTION staff celebrating a project

  • Maintaining a safe, clean and efficient disaster shelter.

Task forces are also given logistical training, eventually producing a ‘village contingency plan’, complete with lists of at-risk or vulnerable people such as the elderly or pregnant women. Information is also included about elevated areas and cyclone shelters. The Mandal Review Officer (MRO) has a copy, which helps local authorities to provide the necessary help during a disaster.

Task forces are thoroughly trained in practices and priorities to adopt before, during and following a disaster. The advice is practical and simple to put into action, using local materials and resources to produce shelters and equipment such as stretchers and floatation devices. Currently, ACTION is interacting with other charities and organizations, seeking to make disaster preparedness a part of the teaching curriculum in A.P schools. The Chief Functionary is to raise this at the forthcoming Early Warning Systems conference in March at Bonn, in the Netherlands.


Task force members during a disaster drill


Certificate awarded to Chief Functionary by UNISDR, for services to disaster reduction.

Following the cyclone floods of 19th September, ACTION initiated a relief program for effected target areas. This was in conjunction with three other groups, being Oxfam, Save the Children, and Plan International (India). On 2nd October, volunteers from each village were given orientation on relief measures, and requested to complete a prioritized list of needy groups. Following this, funds were given to volunteers to procure relief materials, after gaining three quantity and quality quotations. A list of the most productive goods was compiled, and the materials purchased by cheque.

A process of packaging and loading then began, as the materials were prepared for transportation to affected areas. After distributing official Identification to volunteers, goods were distributed and taken directly to the villages. Health camps were also established, with necessary medical supplies provided. The relief efforts had immediate and sustained positive effects, and several case studies were undertaken which emphasized this goodwill. Beneficiaries were very thankful for the support received, especially as government and military relief was initially scarce.


Following the cyclone floods of 19th September, ACTION initiated a relief program for effected target areas. This was in conjunction with three other groups, being Oxfam, Save the Children, and Plan International (India). On 2nd October, volunteers from each village were given orientation on relief measures, and requested to complete a prioritized list of needy groups. Following this, funds were given to volunteers to procure relief materials, after gaining three quantity and quality quotations. A list of the most productive goods was compiled, and the materials purchased by cheque.

‘Empowerment, Mutual help and self-help’

Action’s operations are governed by the principal of ‘self-help and mutual help’. In the long term, the organization hopes to empower local people to organize their own communities at a village level. Community participation is encouraged throughout all welfare activities, encouraging interaction, and involving rural and tribal members in their own development. Such interaction ensures sincerity and seriousness on the part of the target communities, and empowers individuals to take responsibility for their own affairs. Individual case studies of village and fishing folk are produced, keeping track of the achievements and activities of the association. When distributing funds, ACTION engages directly with the beneficiaries. This leads to efficient usage of valuable funds, and a positive approach to financial help, so communities do not feel that it is their right to receive monetary assistance. ACTION significantly improves the communities’ way of living by encouraging discussion about needs and wants, talking about the positive and negative aspects of these. Sangha self-help groups are also established in the villages to discuss problems in the village. If necessary, they meet with the Project Coordinator/ Community Organiser to discuss assistance. In a weekly meeting, the coordinator then discusses these issues with fellow colleagues and the Executive Secretary. If important issues are raised, then village-level meetings are held, decisions taken both collectively and democratically. Following the meeting, proposals incorporating the needs and wants of the villagers are implemented by the association. Community organizers look after the day-to-day realization of the programs, and Sangha and group leaders monitor this. The Executive Secretary and coordinators carry out periodical evaluations, and every six months, Auditor and Resource persons carry out an external evaluation. The organization involves and benefits target groups to the maximum extent possible, making transactions as clear and well understood as possible. The foundation of ACTION’s work is to constantly and carefully monitor activities, refining or adapting them as and when necessary.

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