Samarthan began its journey in undivided Madhya Pradesh in the year 1996. At that time Madhya Pradesh had few voluntary organisations which could promote people-centred development initiatives. The poor and the marginalised were not benefiting from the top down model of development and the involvement of local organisations was vital in solving development issues within the communities. Samarthan identified this need and supported civil society through building their capacities on participatory planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes. Since then, with the support of Samarthan, several large development organisations have grown at the district level.
We believe in people centred development and therefore realised the opportunity for citizen participation in the governance system after the enactment of the 73rd and 74th Amendments in 1993 and 1994, respectively. These amendments provided the opportunity for the community to govern itself. It was essential to engage with the Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies to strengthen their capacities to function as institutions of local self governance. This further gave the opportunity for underprivileged members of society to become involved in the development process. Samarthan realised it was important to train these new leaders effectively in micro planning initiatives to enable them to successfully fulfil their roles in the Panchayats and ULBs.
To additionally amplify the voices of the underprivileged, we formed a network of civil society organisations at the state level and became a member of national and international network organisations to share our learnings from field experiences as well as being able to influence the larger policies affecting citizens.