Samarthan’s origin was concurrent to the implementation of 73rd constitutional amendment in the state. It gave us the distinct advantage of being a pioneer Civil Society Organisation to work on the issue of deepening democracy in the state. Over the years Samarthan has worked extensively for strengthening the local self governance institutions – village Panchayats and urban local bodies. While there are two intensive sites (Sehore and Panna) for model building on good governance, we have been working extensively with a vibrant network of NGOs across the state.
Under the Rural Governance programme, Samarthan works on strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The interventions under the programme include capacity building of elected representatives, gram Sabha mobilisation, strengthening citizen collectives, conducting social audits, participatory research on contemporary issues like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Right to Information Act (RTI), Education and Health. We also work with policy makers to advocate for different aspects of strengthening the rural governance institutions. The rural governance intervention can be seen under the following heads:
Samarthan has undertaken several initiatives to demonstrate decentralised planning. While some of these assignments were carried out on pilot basis with support from bilateral/multi-lateral donors and other donor organisations, Samarthan has recently focused in engaging with the state government in promoting decentralised planning. This has helped Samarthan in converging initiatives from different actors and has also helped in spreading the coverage to a larger cross-section of community.
Strengthening Civil Society
Since its inception, Samarthan has been committed to strengthening civil society groups for making governance accountable and transparent. On the one hand Samarthan builds the capacity of small civil society groups to take up issues at the district and state level. On the other hand we have been active in national campaigns like the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, National Social Watch Coalition etc to voice civil society concerns on how the nation is being governed.
Monitoring government Schemes
MNREGS, the national flagship programme on poverty-alleviation guarantees 100 days of employment per financial year to rural adults. The Programme has the potential to bring about a radical change in the rural areas, however there are several challenges in the implementation of MNREGS that holds it back it from providing sustainable livelihood to the marginalized sections of the villages. Samarthan is working across MP and Chhattisgarh to ensure right to employment by monitoring the implementation of NREGS. The aim is to bridge the gaps that withhold NREGS from delivering intended results by strengthening institutions of local self governance, CSO networks; monitoring the implementation for ensuring transparency and accountability; going beyond the minimum guarantees to ensure sustainable livelihood.