Community empowerment is high on the current policy agenda. The Department for Communities and Local Government is leading the drive to “enable more people to play an active role in the decisions that affect their communities”.
CID thinks, an empowered community must have inclusion of mentioned qualities which is:
Power of decentralized governance: Gram Panchyat Raj
Panchayat Raj is a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of administration. It has 3 levels: Gram (village, though it can comprise more than one village), Janpad (taluka or block) and Zilla (district). The panchayati raj is a South Asian political system mainly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent. The word “Panchayat” literally means “assembly” (ayat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. However, there are different forms of assemblies. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and villages. Modern Indian government has decentralized several administrative functions to the local level, empowering elected gram panchayats.
Mahatma Gandhi advocated Panchayati Raj, a decentralized form of Government where each village is responsible for its own affairs, as the foundation of India’s political system. The term for such a vision was Gram Swaraj (“Village Self-Governance”).
In the process of PRI, Only local peoples are given authority to come up with solution of their local problem. As decentralized approaches, CID is working for people’s participation at all stages of development in villages. We strengthen the PRI system so that people’s participation and process of communitization can be insured.
A group for self-solution: Community Committee
The communities Committees are evidence itself as an effective tool to empower community to solve their problems collectively by themselves. These committees create awareness about issues related to community itself and provide them platform to raise their voice for their concern, rights and justice before Concern authorities.
To strengthen capacity and knowledge of community members about different government schemes for welfare of the poor and deprived section of the society. Every month a meeting of community committee is organized. A few objectives have been given below-:
• Acknowledged about Govt. Scheme and policies and its importance.
• A better understanding of importance and concept of community committee/organization.
• Detail information on hygiene and sanitation.
• Information on women’s rights.
• Applications through community committee for Entitlement.
• Enhanced capacity on problem identification and solving them
SAJAG (Sahariya-Jan-Gathbandhan) – A commune platform for Aadiwasis
The Sahariyas has been designated as a particularly vulnerable tribal community, which comprises nearly 4% of the tribal population of Madhya Pradesh. They are traditionally dependent on the forest for their livelihood and diet, the Sahariyas have become encroachers on their own land as a result of the policy of “eminent domain” under which governments since the British raj has taken over forests.
The Sahariya community is extremely poor, often working as a daily – wage or bonded laborers. Literacy levels are very low, a majority of the children are severely malnourished, and mortality, even among adults, is so high that their population is steadily declining. In recent years, as many as approx. 300 deaths were recorded. Further, the alienation from their traditional habitat which has forced the Sahariyas to assimilate with mainstream and is slowly causing the tribal communities to lose their identity and religious practices.
We began our work in the area by distributing food and organizing health camps to provide immediate relief to the impoverished community. The next step was to activate the community by making them aware of their rights. SAJAG or the Sahariya Jana Gathbandhan was an important step in this direction. Over the years, SAJAG has facilitated the election of Sahariya men and women to local governance bodies, and filed claims for securing forest land rights under the forest laws and filing Right to Information petitions when needed. Manav Adhikar Kendras have also been set up at the cluster and block levels which function as a hub for community activities where meetings and workshops are held, and discussions held on tribal rights. A network of women’s self-help groups and Bal Adhikar Kendras has also been formed which works to sensitize Sahariyas about gender issues and child rights. SAJAG has grown into a members-funded organization that is allied with state-level organizations such as Jan Pahal and national bodies like the Adim Janjati Adhikar Manch and the National Alliance of People’s Movements. The focus now is on making the movement sustainable further through capacity-building exercises. Single women, widows and disabled are to be the focus now of the campaign for land rights and right to health, food and education. People’s hearings on the land rights issue, workshops on sustainable agriculture, mapping of land and other resources at the village level, and a survey of hunger, health and hygiene are some of the other initiatives planned.