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Samarthan completed 20 years of existence dedicated for promoting participatory development and governance. The journey has been quite rich so far with various moments of joys, achievements and disappointments.
Initially, Samarthan worked to build small and medium sized voluntary organisations to function as ‘vison and mission’ driven organisation. Effective management as non-profit organisations to maximise impact was one of the most critical capacity building focus as a support organisation. It helped build a large informal network of grassroots level voluntary organisations in undivided Madhya Pradesh.
The time of Samarthan’s inception coincided with the emergence of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies as institutions of local governance through constitutional amendments. That was the time when preparing Panchayats to effectively fulfil their mandate of ‘economic development and social justice’ in their panchayats was quintessential. It demanded capacity building of PRIs and ULBs. Samarthan designed trainings and reached out to PRIs and ULBs with a large network of voluntary organisations. It also motivated teams to go down to the grassroots to provide handholding support to the women, SC and ST representatives elected on reserved seats in large numbers. Voter Awareness campaigns, Gram Sabha mobilisation, Participatory village planning and Right to Information campaigns were some of the large scale capacity building initiatives.
Over the last decade, Samarthan worked to promote various tools of accountability and transparency so that a citizen and the Government can find meaningful ways of dialogue and finding joint solutions. Citizen’s report card, community score card, social audits and public hearings under various rights based programmes like Right to Employment and Right to Education are some of the examples promoted by Samarthan. The programmes around water and sanitation, watershed and health grew over the years to demonstrate examples of participatory development and governance on the ground.
Currently, Samarthan is organised around three centres based on geographic and thematic focus. The last strategic plan ended in 2016 and new strategic plan is under preparation. The external environment has undergone several changes over the years; therefore new strategies are imperative to meet changing aspirations of the community and grassroots leaders. It is time to forge new partnership with donors as well as collaborate with the Government on new development agenda and priorities.
We express deep respect for the support, solidarity and fraternity shared over the years by the Board of Trustees, Government officials, communities and various civil society organisations. Commitment to build Samarthan as more relevant and effective organisation deepens with each year passing by.