Partner Updates

December News from Partners in India

After a long and difficult period, we are getting the news from our partners that things are getting back to ‘normal’. Our partners are continuing their ongoing programmes, as well as continuing to provide relief support and are planning new initiatives. Vaccination drives have helped and continue to help India come out of lockdowns and restrictions. Schools and colleges have now opened again, and different states are dealing with the situation in the own way. Things are improving in terms of Covid, but we are also reminded of the effects of climate change with floods affected a large number of people just a few weeks ago. Please read our partners updates below.

Assefa is running several new initiatives including setting up a Madurai school of forestry, in collaboration with Agriculture University. The main purpose of the school is to identify the farmers owning suitable lands for tree crops, capacitate them in cultivating suitable tree crops with appropriate techniques and technology and link them with buyers. Read more about ASSEFA’s updates in their latest newsletter.

CRUSADE, from Disability to Stability
Due to Covid, the initial project which was planned from April 2018-March 2021 was delayed and this year has been used to complete activities. The project is running well and plays a vital role for people living with a disability in rural Tamil Nadu. In the first half of this project year, CRUSADE has been able to organise 12 more special groups and so taking the total of groups to 129 and members to 1358. From them, 947 members have received special disability ID cards and 666 receive a maintenance allowance from the government after CRUSADE’s support. This year, monthly camps were also held again locally. At these camps, people living with a disability can be assessed to receive their ID card. The benefit of these local camps is that they receive their ID cards the same day and don’t have to travel as far as they would have had to otherwise to the district headquarters. Getting an ID card is hugely important as it enables people to then receive the support they need and is theirs by right. You can read more about the project update here.

CRUSADE celebrates World Disability Day
CRUSADE, in association with Vallamai, the registered Federation of the Special groups of Persons with Disability, celebrated the World Disability Day on 3rd December at CRUSADE Centre at Pudupakkam on the occasion of the federation’s third AGM. READ MORE. 

Ekta Parishad
Ekta Parishad dedicates their latest issue to Subba Rao ji, who passed away on the 27th of October, 2021 at the age of 92. Salem Nanjudaiah Subba Rao, or “Bhai ji” as he was lovingly called, was a Gandhian leader and President of the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram in Morena, Madhya Pradesh. He was also one of the key board members of Gandhi Peace Foundation and founder of the National Youth Project. His message of justice, peace, and non-violence, which he carried for over seven decades, created a profound impact across the world. Read more about his life and work in EP’s latest newsletter. 

EquiDiversity Foundation, Strenthening Women’s Participation in Local Governance
After taking on EquiDiversity Foundation as a partner back in January, we are happy to let you know that we have started supporting their project Strengthening Women’s Participation in Local Governance. The project started in September, and it aims to change four Gram Panchayats (Village Councils) in Birbaum, West Bengal’s rural governance system from one where women serve as proxy leaders to one where women actively participate in decision-making processes and governing, ensuring democratic leadership. So far workshops on partnership building with elected representative and opinion leaders were held and the result of these workshops were an agreement from the Gram Panchayats and opinion leaders to support the project and be transparent in the process. The women elected representatives have shown enthusiasm for the upcoming workshops. Hear more about the project directly from the founder, Anindita Majumdar, here.

NBJK, Girls’ Education
One of the areas most affected by the pandemic must have been education. After almost a year of being closed, the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in the first half of 2021 forced schools across India to close again, affecting the learning of more than 280 million children. Throughout this period, NBJK worked with its project team to provide online teaching where possible, but with a lack of internet and smart phone facilities, this was not possible for everybody. Luckily with Covid numbers dropping and vaccinations increasing, all schools have reopened again. In Jharkhand classes from 9-12 opened in August 2021 and classes from 6-8 reopened in September. In Bihar schools opened again in August. Luckily remedial coaching centres were able to open sooner as these are non-formal education centres. This year, NBJK has been able to add another 135 girls to the programme as there was an underspent last year. With so much lost education, it is even more vital to now increase the support for girls to be able to continue with schooling. The project is running well now and the girls are happy to be able to continue quality education.

Girls from the Girls’ Education Project Report local issues
In early March a documentary training was provided to 75 girls who are supported under the girls’ education project. Through the training they discussed social issues in their area and, as true journalists, reported on these.

NBJK, Community Action 
As with all the projects, the Community Action Project and the project participants faced difficulties during the second lockdown back in May. However, the community action project also proved to be vital during this period as relief support was given and awareness was raised among the project participants. Currently the project is running again as planned and this includes the running of a health centre, the running of non-formal education centres, tailoring training for adolescent women, the running of a plant nursery, the building of a water pump and the support of Lok Samiti who continue to run campaigns focusing on the effects of corruption, the benefits of the proper implementation of government programmes, labour and women rights, legal awareness camps, health and other issues.

RCDC, Securing Land Rights and Livelihoods
The situation in Chilika Lake has become even more difficult after Covid. The socio-economic profile in the area has changed due to the arrival of migrant workers who are jobless in a place where people are already struggling to access livelihood options. On top of that the new tourism policy of 2021 is proving to be another threat to Chilika and fish-based livelihoods because it speaks about privatization of the tourism sites and management. The policy fails to address structural issues and instead, there is a hard sell of tourism with the policy chasing numbers and growth indices.
RCDC continues to reinforce resilience towards disaster and to assert land rights, support migrant workers with information about livelihood programmes, provide alternative livelihoods support whilst taking measures to strengthen the community. Advocacy activities are being undertaken to bring about a change in the existing Chilika policies.

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