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CDHI has entered into a research partnership with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research ( ACIAR ) since Sep 2014 on an action research project titled “ Improving water use for dry season agriculture by marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (DSI4MTF)” at Dhaloguri of Coochbehar and Uttar Chakoakhtei of Alipurduar district.
The overall aim of the project is to improve the livelihood of woman, marginal and tenant farmers in the project area, through improved water use and increased dry season agricultural production. The project will identify and test a series of institutional and technical interventions to increase dry season farming in the context of stratified social structure.
The specific objectives of the project are including following :
The stimulus of the positive changes are including the followings-
CDHI has been facilitating “Socially Inclusive Agricultural Intensification” (SIAGI) research project since April 2016 in Uttar Chakoakheti, Alipurduar district and Dhaloguri of Coochbehar district at the same villages where another sister project-“ Dry Season Irrigation for Marginal and Tenant Farmers” supported by ACIAR has been conducting action research since 2015 and CDHI also involved in that project. SIAGI also working with the same partners (farmers). There are other agencies including CSRO, IIT Kharagpur, PRADHAN, LNRMI, ELU also involved with their respective tasks in the project. It is basically a research project and trying to capture / understand the impact / affect of agricultural intensification, status of social inclusion, how economic and environmental factors affect livelihood, existing Value Chain analysis and facilitate to evolve new Value Chain, try and trial different models (Bio Economic Modeling), role of different institutions, status of convergence, etc.
The aim of this project is to understand drivers, apply tools, develop opportunities and provide policy options to promote more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable agricultural intensification in West Bengal and Bangladesh, with an emphasis on water.
Different activities have been planned and initiated as per design of the project to have the information of respective research questions, partners shared their feedback after intervention in the field and found some gaps and CDHI shared their experiences and proposed Ethical Community Engagement as a tool and explained the facilitation process. SIAGI team agreed on that and team leader of SIAGI proposed for need based modification on the proposal and Community Engagement evolved as a key tool.
During the period of time we have shared the proposal with the community, completed design of Community Engagement Process, base line report published, captured notes / narratives / case studies and shared in the larger groups, facilitated training on Value Chain and initiated study on Value Chain, identified issues of social inclusivity and equity in communities, facilitated the process and captured community’s vision, aspiration, livelihood potentials and choices of farmers (male / female/ landless), Participatory Climate Risk Analysis of the study villages, Synthesis of existing hydrology studies and modeling, stakeholders meeting, etc.
Community Engagement process has been ensuring the participation of the community in the project activities and at the same time, it helps them to plan more effectively. It has been helping to evolve leadership among the community and they have been facilitating the process to address the issues to the respective authorities. Caste Certificate issue had been emerged as first priority through that process and addressed that issue to the District Magistrate, district responded positively and delivered 100 certificates at their door steps on the basis of their demand. That success encouraged them quite a lot for taking initiatives to solve other issues like deficiency of irrigation, land rights, KCC, etc. At the same time, the process is helping to build the confidence among the community for making their decision effectively in case of selection of crops, market and others and they consider it as an impact of the project.
Strengthening of Community Institutions for Inclusive Development in Tea Estates (CIID) project has been initiating by CDHI in the five Tea Gardens of Chamurchi G.P, Dhupguri, Jalpaiguri in collaboration with Bread for the World and CASA since the year 2016 and it will be continuing for the next three years. The project is focusing to raise collective consciousness among the community living in the Tea Estates towards climate change and proactive role of Governance is enabled leading the community to live a dignified life in the T.Gs (Tea Garden).
To achieve the above, project initiated various activities during the time which includes consultations with different stakeholders , training, advocacy, linkage building, identification of the local level institutions and provide them hand holding support, facilitate the process to evolve leadership and prepare them for providing handholding support to the community, community mobilization on rights and entitlements and various government programmes, etc. which helped to enhance capacity of the targeted community towards sustainable livelihood and facilitating the path way to access rights & entitlements , built network among the Civil Society Organizations and at the same time community leaders raised the issues what immerged from the community which includes difficulties to access digital ration card, quality of ration, poor service of Midday meal, social security schemes, problems of tea garden workers and non-workers, availability of fresh drinking water, problems under MGNREGA, etc. and brought the issues to the district and state level platform as strategic move. As a result, respective authorities have taken the action, some of the problem solved.
So far the project reached to 45% of the targeted population. The major achievements of the project are formed Village Level Digester Management Group with very active youths, community got aware about the dos and don’ts during digester, Formed Block and District level platform on DRM, Tea Garden issues brought to the larger platforms, numbers of community leaders emerged and capacitated and providing required handholding support to the community, numbers of local level institutions have been identified and capacitated.
Child Protection is one of the priority areas of CDHI and has been working on the issues of child protection since inception. It is true that the Indian constitution ensures the right of all children 6-14 years to free and compulsory education, prohibits forced labour, prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in hazardous occupations and promotes policies protecting children from exploitation. But reality says different story, there are numbers of child bound to work as child labour in the world and India is not the exception. As per census there are around 10.13 million child labours in the age group of 5-14 in India and 80% of the child labour is concentrated in rural areas.
Considering the fact Government of India started National Child labour Programme and Jalpaiguri was included on the programme in 2008. CDHI was requested by the district administration to facilitate five (5) out of nineteen (19) child labours schools in Jalpaiguri (then Alipurduar was under Jalpaiguri district) and since then CDHI has been involved in the programme with the objective of the programme to sensitize the community against child labour and at the same time, mainstreaming them. At present, CDHI has been facilitating four (4) schools, two are in Alipurduar and others are in Jalpaiguri district. Presently, the schools are converted in Special Training Centres and targeting the entire child labours who are below 18 years of age. They are entitled to enroll in the class as per age and centres are assigned to prepare them as per requirement of the class, they are entitled to have vocational training, midday meal, stipend, etc. and children should be mainstreamed within two years (maximum).
After some modifications National Child Labour Schools converted into Special Training Centre and it is targeting all the children below 18 years of age instead of 9-14 who are dropped out from the schools / never enrolled and working as child labour that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.
Last year-2016-17, we worked with 200 children (child labours) and among the total 32 children got mainstreamed. But our job was not ended after mainstreaming the children; we do regular monitoring, tracking and provide need based support to them. As a result many children appeared / passed Madhyamik Examination and continuing study. At the same time, some children got drop out after class-VIII - IX due to their (family’s) bad socio economic condition but dropout rate is very low.
We started working with Babita Roy, Dely Begam, Faridul Alam, Jitni Oraon and many others (250 child labours) in the year of 2008, that time they were working as child labour in the Brick-kiln, housemate, tea shop, garage, agriculture field, hotel, etc. CDHI extended their support through NCLP and enrolled them in Special schools for the child labours. Babita, Dely, Faridul, Jitni got mainstreamed (admitted in the formal school in class-V)in the year of 2010 and continuing their study, presently Babita, faridul, Jitni are studying in class- XII, they have proved that everybody has capacity and they can do anything if they really want and try accordingly; now they are showing the way to other child labours. They are also extending their support to mainstream the Child Labours. A motivated team (Instructors, Vocational Teachers, Support Staffs, etc.) has been working hard to reach the goal of the programme since the inception and mainstreamed 556 child labours till date.
CDHI has been implementing Netra Vasant National Rural Eye Health Programme since April 2016 in Alipurduar district in collaboration with Sightsavers and other stakeholders with the objective of sensitizing the community on eye health and at the same time, eliminating the avoidable blindness from the society. As per design of the programme, financial and technical support have been providing by the Sightsavers and Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital respectively and CDHI is involved in community mobilization, capacity building of the community/ capacity building of the Rural Medical Practitioners/ ICDS workers/ Tea Garden Volunteers/ Self Help Groups (SHGs) and others. Initially, we selected four blocks of Alipurduar district and worked intensively to achieve the target. As per design of the project, CDHI has been facilitating the process to involve SHGs as one of the key actors and reaching the target groups more effectively as they (SHGs) have reach almost every household. SHGs have been playing very vital role in the whole process. Many SHGs have been taken it as their social responsibility and trying hard and they have included it in their agenda and involved in sensitizing the community on eye health, organizing eye screening camps, providing hand holding supports to the community, etc. Multi Stakeholders consultation also emerged as very good tool and it has helped the programme very much to reach the target groups easier way and the programme able to involve different stakeholders from selection of venue, dates, etc. and the project has created a good environment with the support and cooperation of the local agencies / organizations / institutions/ mobilizers / individuals which have been encouraging the people to participate in the programme without any hesitation, as a result, a big percentage of the excluded community participated in the programme and benefited.
We have facilitated 115 eye screening camps so far (April 2016- March 2017) and around 13720 people attended in the camps and availed the benefit of free eye checkup. As per record, 2043 cataract, 2750 Refractive Error, 254 other eye problems identified during the camp and 1246 cataract surgery had conducted so far and success rate was 100%. 2610 people purchased subsidized (@Rs.150-200) spectacles. All are very happy and appreciated the effort of Sightsavers and CDHI for initiating the project to eliminate the avoidable blindness from the society.
Seeing the impact of the programme, Sightsavers extended their activity to Jalpaiguri district also from February 2017 and CDHI has been following the same process for Jalpaiguri as followed earlier for Alipurduar and getting very positive responses from the all. Women SHGs have been extending their support to the programme and SHGs federation (Uttar banga Teari mahila Samiti) decided to include eye health programme in their agenda and started activities for sensitizing their members on eye health. They are quite motivated and playing very vital role in mobilizing the community, sensitizing the SHGs members as well as others on eye health, almost 80% of the camps have been organized by them, they also providing required hand holding support, etc. With support of SHGs and others (including stakeholders) we have conducted 3 (Three) camps so far and 509 people benefited out of it so far.
According to the statistics, there are 1.4 million children in the world are blind and one third of the total is leaving in the developing countries but the causes of the blindness among the children vary place to place and socio-economic condition. As per statistics and our experience in implementing of different programmes in the schools, we observed that the Refractive Error (RE) is the most common problem of the school going children and it is also observed that children, parents, teachers no-one is concern about the problem due to lake of awareness and in the long run eyes get damage and children bound to accept permanent loss (damaged /blindness) of their eyes. Considering the fact, CDHI in collaboration with Sightsavers have been planned “Vidyajyoti”- School Eye Health Programme for Jalpaiguri district. The programme started on 1st March 2017and it will be running for the next three years.
The programme initiated with the objective of sensitizing the children, teachers, School Management Committees and others on eye health and at the same time, screen all the children and provide free spectacles to those in need.
Several activities including orientation training for teachers, School Management Committees, develop and disseminate IECs, quiz on eye health for the students and screening, etc. would be facilitated during the project time.
Project was inaugurated with the orientation training for the teachers (Primary schools of Sadar Circles) and Mr.Dharti Mohan Roy, Chairman; DPSC inaugurated the training programme on 4th March and announced all kinds of support and cooperation to make the programme successful. He also requested to the teachers for providing their support to team and as per design of the programme, the trained teachers have started primary screening and enjoying the work.
Project is targeting to reach 100000 children and examine their eye and at the same time 500 students will get free spectacles those in need. At the same time, facilitating the process for benefiting the children who need corrective surgery Squints (Cataract, Ptosis, squint, etc.). All are hopeful to achieve the target. Teachers are very motivated and extending their support to identify the children with eye problems, a whats App group already emerged and members are sharing their experiences / achievements / suggestion, etc. it has evolved as feedback tool and the way all are benefiting.
Conceived and being implemented under the collaboration of GOAL India, the North Bengal Model Villages (NBMVs) project focuses on integrated development based on the targets of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals though now it is SDGs ) through health, child Empowerment and Protection and Livelihood interventions in 11 villages of Turturikhanda. The project aims to address causes for high levels of child trafficking and forced migration through designing a community based protection mechanism.
NBMV project is being implemented in Turturikhand, a Gram Panchayat under Kumar Gram block of the newly carved out district of Alipurduar. It works with 3392 households and a population of 16,294. Turturikhand is home to diverse tribal communities who live under adverse circumstances. The water table is too low to provide water for human consumption as well as agriculture. Tea and forest based livelihood is too uncertain and scant. The wild animals pose serious hazards.
Being implemented since 2009 and in 2016 plans are to establish linkages between the existing service delivery systems and the project participants to ensure their rights and entitlements. An integrated programmatic approach has been adopted here with the objectives of addressing the underlying causes of poverty and vulnerability through strategically designed interventions in the sector of health, child empowerment and protection, institution building, livelihoods and the cross cutting issues of gender.
Families have been considered as units of intervention and the key finding of the programme are:
The project is ended in December 2016 as GOAL Ireland decided to withdraw the support from India. CDHI has prepared the proposal on livelihood based on past learning and community needs and submitted to another partner to continue the marginalized and tribal community in Turturikhanda.
Uttar Banga Terai Mahila Samity” (UBTMS) which is the sister organization of the CDHI. The mission of the federation is to mobilize, organize and build the capacity of the women to assert and access various entitlements and to help them through institutional and enterprise development in different areas. The mission is also to involve them in all spheres of human and social development including education, health, handcraft and vocational training etc. The Women Federation evolved as UBTMS has been able to organize 648 SHGs comprising 9500 women members presently. There are 52 clusters under the UBTMS and this is one of the Federation in North Bengal working without any Government subsidy. Apart from the women federation it has also a credit linked with the respective State Bank of India (SBI)for financial support to UBTMS members for enhancing the capacity building and livelihood of 9500 households. The UBTMS is also working with NABAR in organizing 132 WSHGs respectively. All the SHGs are being looked after by the concerning cluster leaders and are keeping close contact with the SHGs members responsibly and regularly.
The following specific activities are undertaken by UBTMS:
Ensured education for all children through community led “ Buxa Shikshya Jyoti Abhiyan ( BSJY)” among tribal and schedule caste communities in Buxa hilly villages. The BSJA was entry point activity of Buxa but then strong convergence is created resulting in proper implementation of government services. Then national level organization CASA came forward to strengthening and empowering local level institutions at Buxa villages in collaboration with CDHI. The learning and results of Buxa also replicated in 371 numbers of primary schools in Maynaguri and Falakata blocks in collaboration withEducation department and UNICEF as well as replicated in Ramsai, Jalpaiguri for successfully developing the SDP-school development plan.
We are expecting that CDHI will contribute more deeply and widely in coming years towards village based institutions; community engagement; women development ; farmers’ friendly technological intervention; collective farming under land and water resources; agriculture intensification; market value chain; community level risks management; school eye health; youth skill and leadership in tea garden and rural livelihoods. CDHI is also looking forward for deeper partnership with the like-minded partners, research organizations, district authority, line departments and community.