• Chief Minister's visit at Sanitary Park kanker-Chhatisgarh
    Chief Minister's visit at Sanitary Park kanker-Chhatisgarh (Technical support provided by Samarthan in preparation of the Sanitary Park)
  • Community lead total Sanitation book in Hindi released by ChiefMinister Chhatisgarh
    Community lead total Sanitation book in Hindi released by ChiefMinister Chhatisgarh (Book prepared by Samarthan and printed by district administration kanker)
  • Bundelkhan CSs meeting in Jahani
  • Identifying the rights of migrants and their families
  • Bundelkhan CSs meeting in Jahani MNREGA

FC Fund received status of Jan to March 2017

Community led Gram Sabhas demonstrate way for decentralised governance

Community led Gram Sabhas demonstrate way for decentralised governance

FES-Foundation of Ecological Security- has been working in completely denuded common land in 49 villages of Agar district in MP over the last 30 years. There was a severe water shortage due to drought and massive felling of trees from the common forest. FES worked with the villagers to demonstrate ways of community management of commons. The area has now rich bio-diversity, plenty of water, surplus fodder and agricultural produce.

Mr Jalam Singh about 80 years old witnessed the changes in the villages over the years. Watershed approach resulted in gradual increase in retention of water which improved ground water table. Systematic plantation of local trees developed rich bio-diversity where trees variety like sandalwood has naturally grown in an unfamiliar climate and soil. Supply of fodder is more than the demand in the area. Net sown area for wheat has grown manifolds and also wheat production. Jalam Singh recall that in one of the drought years recently, each of the village member had enough water for survival and village refused money allocated for construction of additional ponds by the Government as they had already built ponds having sufficient water in peak summer. There was no distress migration which was rampant earlier.

Community processes have been strong to build associations to protect commons. Initially, sufficient energy was invested in analysing the problems with the people and later shaping up membership based People’s Organisation (PO) known as village tree growers’ association. Every adult was asked to be the member of the PO with a membership fee of Rs 11 per annum. Monthly meetings were the platforms to discuss and develop norms of governance. Each village level PO has a different set of rules of governance which emerged from the local needs and requirements. There are more than 36 different type of rules in Nipaniya Baijnath village to protect and use of the resources of the commons. There is no use of axe in the forest and it was one of the effective method to prevent tree felling.
The elders played role of strategic thinkers and the younger people took role of implementation of the rules. As rules were determined though consensus and were locally evolved, therefore those were followed by everyone. Jalam Singh drew parlance of accountability mechanisms of POs like a bus, where the driver runs the bus on the instructions/whistle of the conductor.

It was decided that small structures will be taken up in those areas where the poor peoples’ land exist as the rich farmers already have access to water. The common forest was divided in three parts, one for the common use or Nistar, the other for protection and third for rejuvenation. After couple of years, the protected portion is opened for use and used forest is considered for rejuvenation. The protected and rejuvenated parts of the forest were watched by the families in rotation on 24 hours basis. Over the years, POs realised that indigenous seeds of plants are more successful than those imported from the other regions. Therefore, local seed development was started and rate of survival of the plants increased substantially.
Use of water was also controlled that no one can install a pump for agriculture. Gradually, surface water retained in ponds and trenches, resulted in rise in water table in wells that was used for agriculture. Over the years, use of organic manure has been promoted as number of cattle’s has gone up in the area. One of the village Raipuriya is fully saturated with gobar gas plants for fuel and manure.

Peoples’ Organisations are still strong and younger generation has taken over the leadership role. Each village has many old natural leaders, who nurture the young leadership by demonstrating through actions. POs are aware that the Gram Sabha of the village has powers and provide a public platform, therefore, most of the decisions are taken in Gram Sabha.

The PO leaders openly mentioned that the village panchayats with the leadership of those who were active in POs are sucked into the corrupt administrative system of the Panchayati Raj. Community led Gram Sabha is strong yet the constitutionally mandated official Gram Sabha is notional. The moot question for the PO is “ how can the community led Gram Sabha take over the official or constitutionally defined Gram Sabha in a top down model of decentralised governance?”

The POs and FES also need to look at the issues of equity and inclusion from close quarters now. Is it true that the landless and small farmers got larger benefits than the big farmers? Are the women also got empowered enough in the process to have say in the decision making in the family matters and the community issues? What are the key process that resulted in conflicts with the power centres and what were the mechanisms applied to resolve such conflicts and tensions? How would FES like to upscale the initiative in many more village of India through policy advocacy and replication strategies?

Yogesh Kumar

Soochana Kendra-Information kiosks proving its relevance for deprived sections of society in MadhyaPradesh and Chhatisgarh

At Gram Panchayat Khachrod Public assistance and information Centre known as Soochana kendra has been opened since the past six months covering five Panchayats. This is 67 kilometers away from Sehore district headquarter where communities face problem in commutation. At Panchayat level a person has been identified named Soochna mitra as information friend.

At Bapcha panchayat of the same district Soochna Mitra- Santosh kumar provides information and guides any needy person without any social prejudices. He is only high school pass but is intensively and regularly in contact with the community. The Soochana Mitra facilitates receiving of information by the community either provided directly by him or community people reaching information Centre for getting a solution to their problem.

1At panchayat level the Soochana Mitra met Rozgar Sahayak so the names of children Arun aged one year  and Ayush aged three  year could be added in Samagra Portal .This would facilitate availability of food grains  for these children. Currently 5 kgs additional food grain(wheat) is being received by this family through the Public distribution system.In future it would also facilitate availability of various government schemes meant for scheduled caste community and education scholarships meant for these children.

Bhuri bai aged fifty years who is a  Scheduled tribe and Mamta bai aged thirty two from scheduled caste were linked with Widow Pension due to lack of document viz missing death certificate of their respective husband. Samarthan organization team member facilitated the process of preparation of death certificate and an application was presented in front of the Secretary  of the Panchayat and it was prepared.

2Similarly Adityaa five year old boy who is differently abled has started getting his Disability Pension of rupees five hundred per month. The Samarthan team members facilitated the process of getting a certificate from officials stating the correct disability percentage otherwise earlier it was stated less hindering the availability of disability pension.

Now people approach the Soochna Mitra directly for getting information rather than wandering here and there in dismay. This process is facilitating free flow of information and acting as an catalyst in the confidence building of the community as well.

Such is a case of Astha development block of district Sehore of MadhyaPradesh,where the community is striving hard daily to earn their livelihood. Government schemes are meant for all individuals but it doesn’t reach equally to all communities specifically the marginalized and deprived communities due to lack of information. It’s like the difference between defacto and dejure rights. The social realities act as an impediment in accessing these rights.

This process has been initiated  four months back only in states of Madhya Pradesh and chhatisgarh in four places-Sehore and Panna in MP,  Kanker and Rajnangaon in Chhattisgarh. Ten villages of each of the four districts based on its dialogue with the community and various problem faced by them. Around 40 Panchayats of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are being benefitted from this process. This initiative was done  seeing the social realities where Online information made available by the government through website and MP Online kiosks has its limited outcome. Sadly these initiatives by the government has not changed totally the situation of the rural area at the Panchayat level.

This is attributed due to various reasons such as nonworking of internet due to power shortage specifically at district places. Online shops charging arbitrary rates and there is no certainty that on the work would be done due to various reasons. Websites of government donot have  adequate information such as there is updated material in English and not in Hindi. Information culling out through website sometimes being a tedious process due to the information not being placed in proper section, font problem etc. All pertinent schemes and desired documents are not available online. If we talk about the loksewa guarantee offices as well, travelling to these offices are also a constraint as they are situated at district or block level only.

Soochana kendrashave met the  information gap of the poor needy and deprived communities specifically scheduled caste and scheduled tribe community people as they are being  linked to various social security schemes.Soochna mitras are providing a handholding support to the community  in access of information at various levels and preparing the community to fight for their rights. They are easily available and have a good rapport with the community as well.

Story of change written by Manohar(sehore team member) –Translated and edited by Sudeepa

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Bargaining Power of Self help group members yielded result in getting gas connections

On 27 November 2016  Reena a team member of Samarthan was facilitating a meeting of a Self help group when a group member Ms.Anita bai shared that there are some families in the village who didn’t had gas connection in spite of having names in the eligibility list of the PradhanMantri Ujjwala Yojana for getting gas connection in the name of women of a household

These women went to the gas agency several times but were sent back by the gas agency with the excuse that new applications are not being accepted. The gas agencies workers constantly dropped those calls that were made to enquire about applications.


This issue was discussed with priority in the group meeting. Reena made Anita bai call the agency in front of the meeting to again see the response of the gas agency member. In dismay the same reaction of noncooperation was received by gas agency members.
Reena again called the gas agency worker in front of group members  and told him to fill these forms. The gas agency worker replied that quota of applications that were targeted  for this particular village had been completed and he would not fill any more forms.
Reena said that she had the list of all the people who were listed as beneficiaries and was coming to the agency with group members. The gas agency person finally accepted to her demand and replied that he would himself come to their village Bamuliya.The worker came within an hour and completed 60 applications. Within 15 days, out of these 60 applications 40 people got gas connection.
This Self help group is being formed by Samarthan’s work on village and School sanitation with the support of ITC.In Bamuliya village. In this Programme, Self help groups were formed to strengthen the process of village sanitation and school sanitation.
Case study Originally written in Hindi by Reena Suryavanshi
Translated by Shreya Shrivastava and Alark Shukla(interns) and edited by Sudeepa