Networking & Network Building

Women farmers contribute to 88% of agriculture labour. They also engage in household work including rearing of livestock. In spite of their contribution the women seldom is recognized both at society and institutional level and hence, we support women farmers network called All India Federation of Women In Agriculture (AIFWA) to further the interest of women farmers and particularly highlighting their contribution to agriculture GDP and sensitizing relevant institutions of programme planning, NSSO and other policy bodies.
Reseau International d’ONG la Desertification (RIOD a Network of NGO’s) is a platform for civil society organizations and implements common programmes to address climate change and desertification convention of the United Nations.
The networking strategy would also demand the local linkages and convergence at the local level so that the targeted group can have access to all the schemes and programmes to improve the livelihoods. In this respect the NGO network members and particularly YFA could achieve high amount of convergence at the village level. The experience is narrated in a form of case study.

Case study on convergence
YFA has initiated a programme to bring all the relevant stakeholders the village level with an objective to augment, conserve and manage the water resources by the people’s organisations of SujalSamithis and panchayats. The programme is probably the first ever initiative in the country wherein the process demands decentralisation and management by local governance bodies i.e. the panchayatiraj institutions.

The pilot innovative model:

The pilot programme envisages on the people participation particularly women, dalits, tribals and children in the planning and designing of the priorities. Major emphasis on involving panahayats to own and govern the programme in partnership of panchayatiraj institutions. The 73rd amendment highlighted the roles and responsibilities of panchayats in implementing 29 priority areas and the water, health, sanitation and hygiene is one of them.

Why convergence:

convergenceVarious ministries and departments implement several schemes and programmes independently. Many of times these programmes work in isolation even through other departments may be implementing the similar projects / programmes in a same given geographical locations. It is also discovered that many schemes if completed can bring overall development of the communities instead of working in isolation. For example water and sanitation is implemented by rural water supply wing whereas housing is implemented by a separate ministry. If they can have common approach one can design housing, water and sanitation under one roof and in the process efficiently use the resources and can achieve better use of water, sanitation and hygiene. This convergence will bring in synergies between different government programmes/schemes in terms of planning, process and implementation. This will also facilitate sustainable development.

Perceived expected outcomes from convergence initiatives include:
1. Increase in Social Capital: Collective planning and implementation among different stakeholders will enhance social capital. This will improve governance and results.
2. Increase in Physical Capital: The process will improve water infrastructure, use and water governance.
3.Facilitation of Ecological Synergies: Regeneration of natural resource base through different Activities such as farm ponds, afforestation, drought proofing, flood proofing, and watershed will lead to effective use of Resources.
4.Mitigating Effects of Climate Change: Convergence helps in adaptation activities of climate change, SRI cultivation, INM/IPM, reduces uses of high inputs and hence reduction in emission of greenhouse gases and pollution.
5.Enhancing Economic Opportunities: Livelihood opportunities, reduction in health costs, reduction in input costs through various activities.
6.Strengthening Democratic Processes: Convergence awareness and planning at the grassroot level will lead to greater ownership of projects.
7.Facilitating Sustainable Development: Convergence efforts through creation of durable assets, linkage building with panchayats/government departments, productivity enhancement and capacity development lead to sustainable development.

The process and Case study:
tankKanchiraopallythanda is a tribal village and falls under the Kanchiraopally panchayat. The village has only one water source which is being connected to a water tank for the supply of water to all the 54 households. Unfortunately, the Government after construction of the water tank did not connect the households with required pipelines. So the water even through available could not be supplied to the households and the women and girl children had to walk and collect the water from tank which was connected with a water tap. Many of times the tap would not work and around the tap the water is always accumulated and created unhygienic environment. At this stage the Sujal Members of the tribal hamlet approached panchayat for necessary support for laying pipelines connecting to the households. The SujalSamithi and panchayat sought help from YFA for preparation of the proposal for onward submission to RWS Department. The SurpanchMr.Purshotham Reddy with Poshanna and Seshanna the panchayat members raised the issue for sanction of the proposal in the ZillaParishad Meetings. After good struggle by the panchayat members and SujalSamithi the proposal got sanction with budgetary outlay of Rs.70,000/- for the pipelines. The gram panchayat involved the SujalSamithi and members of Kanchiraopallythanda for the execution of the work. Today each household in Kanchiraopallythanda is connected with the pipeline and qualitative drinking water is being made available reducing the drudgery of women and girl children of tribal village.

As similar experience of struggle and hard word demonstrated by Kambalapur panchayat led by its young SurpanchBakkaiah in sanctioning of Pucca internal roads for the vulnerable communities of ST’s and SC’s (Lambadas and Dalits). Dalit Ashanna told during the meetings that earlier entering into their colony during rainy season was difficult as the mud and pool of water would make walking on kacharoad was difficult. Women particularly face difficult proposition to bring water from the main village and children would find it hard to attend school. Many of times the elderly would face minor injuries due to fall on kacha road. But today we have a clean road which connects to the village and main road which made our life easy and comfortable. We sincerely thank the SujalSamithi, Panchayat, YFA for their relentless efforts to address our priority says-Ashanna.

Lessons learned:
– The involvement of panchayats in governance found to be beneficial in mobilising resources from various departments.
– The institutionalisation of the convergence process may take longer period then assured as there are hardly any good experiences of convergence available in Andhra Pradesh.
– The initiative is supported by YFA with respect to technical expertise including social mobilisation and such support would be required by panchayats and SujalSamithis in the future and this issue needs to be addressed.