Samarthan is a leading non-profit organisation working in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since 1995. We believe that good governance is foundation for sustained and equitable development and effective participation by all stakeholders, especially the marginalised, socially excluded and disadvantaged groups, is necessary for promoting good governance.
Samarthan strives to address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment through strengthening the grassroots civil society groups. We consistently promote and strengthen civil society efforts and have a large network of grassroots groups (NGOs/CBOs/Panchayat representatives) to amplify voices of the poor, dalit, tribal and women in policy-making platforms.
We also promote and encourage involvement of local population in planning, execution and monitoring of development projects thereby challenging the mainstream “top-down” development model. In order to enhance public participation in local governance in rural and urban areas, Samarthan has developed vibrant and replicable models through capacity building of elected representatives and empowering Gram Sabha members.
Every citizen contributes meaningfully in shaping democratic State and enjoys benefits based on the principles of equality and equity
Promote and support participatory governance for equity and inclusion in development processes by capacity building, generating evidences and advocating the perspective of the most marginalized for enriched democracy
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Samarthan was established in 1995 as a support organisation in undivided Madhya Pradesh to address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment through strengthening the grassroots civil society. The primary mission of Samarthan was to promote participatory development processes by challenging the conventional top down model of development. It was believed that small and medium size voluntary organization and well meaning individuals willing to work as voluntary organizations at the grassroots will transform the development paradigm from the poor and disadvantaged sections. Samarthan started working on building a strong base of the value based voluntary sector in undivided Madhya Pradesh. Gradually, the mission was broadened to encompass participatory governance to strengthen emerging potential of the local governance organisations in rural and urban areas. Samarthan’s journey over the last fifteen years can be broadly summed up in three phases:
1995-2000: This phase of Samarthan was primarily to identify small voluntary organizations and build their capacities in programme and organizational management issues. This was also an effort to build a network of grassroots voluntary groups to dialogue with the Government on development challenges and possible solutions based on grassroots reality.
Samarthan also initiated experimentation with newly emerged constitutionally mandated Panchayati Raj Institutions working directly in Sehore district and with NGOs in several other districts. The work concentrated in demonstrating capacities of village Panchayats to take responsibility and perform their functions as envisaged in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. The operational bottlenecks faced by Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in becoming self governed institutions which were shared with the senior officials and policy makers.
2000-2005: Samarthan expanded work around participatory governance with PRIs and urban local bodies. A network of voluntary organizations, supported for capacity building in earlier phase, got associated with Samarthan to promote rural governance. Large scale campaign on voter awareness, model building on participatory planning, empowering Gram Sabha to make elected representatives accountable and transparent were the key areas of interventions. Samarthan scaled up interventions in urban governance taking selective small towns for governance reform by designing capacity building programmes for the elected representatives.
Samarthan’s direct field presence grew and learning from Sehore was applied in Panna district in MP and Bastar and Rajnangaon districts in Chhattisgarh.
2005-2010: The intervention strategies focused around facilitating evidence based research and advocacy in participatory governance. The thematic research and campaign focus was around Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Social Security Schemes in urban areas. The Right to Information was promoted as a campaign theme to support the poor in accessing their rights and entitlements. Interventions in urban governance were deepened by selectively working in Bhopal city and Sehore town.
Large scale demonstration on the ground was emphasized in this phase by supporting the initiatives of the Government viz. decentralized planning for the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) , State Planning Commission in MP and Chhattisgarh and Gram Sabha strengthening in DFID funded MP Rural Livelihoods Programme in 9 districts of MP.