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Lok Awaas Yatra Eastern Region

by geetha posted on 2010-04-28 12:55 last modified 2010-04-28 12:51
The Eastern Region Yatra between 26th – 30th March 2010 covered Bihar and Orissa. The Yatra comprised three trails from Bihar, Orissa and Sunderbans. Focus was on sustainable habitat development, people’s participation, water and sanitation and integrated habitat development models. The trails ended with a regional seminar at Patna on 30th March 2010, that identified key enablers for enhancing the quality of rural habitats in the eastern region. Our key partners for the Yatra were Gram Vikas, Megh Pyne, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Ashraya and Goal.


Orissa : Yatra Gram Vikas Ki - Day 2

Posted by amar at 2010-04-05 10:36
Day two of the Orissa trail started with a tour of the Gram Vikas Campus. Established in 80’s, the evolution of the campus from a small office to a knowledge hub, speaks of the commitment of the organisation towards rural development. With its holistic approach to integrated rural development, Gram Vikas demonstrates the right balance between technical and social innovations.

The campus exhibits low carbon and low cost building technologies such as Filler slabs, Composite mud cement mortar walling and Ferro-cement panels. Some of the technologies were practically demonstrated to the Lok Awaas Yatris. Out of the many things that the campus show-cased, eco-bricks made using VSBK technology and compressed bamboo mat ply boards were the highlights.

Moving beyond alternative technology, the participants witnessed the MANTRA approach of Gram Vikas in some tribal villages of Ganjam district. The villages visited were Kanhaiput, Tamand, Sindurpur where water and sanitation, infrastructure, low carbon housing, health, livelihood creation, education programmes were implemented under the approach.

The tour offered new ideas and stimulated the yatris to think ahead and take the learnings to their villages.

Bihar Trail Day - 3

Posted by amar at 2010-03-29 18:49
Third day of the Bihar trail began as early as 5:00 in the morning, when we started our long journey towards the Saharsa district of Bihar to visit the third case study. The ten hours long journey was made interesting with sightseeing stops at River Budhi Gandak and Bhagmati-Kosi sangam.

At 1500 hours we arrived at the ashram of Kosi Seva Sadan where we were joyfully welcomed by the entire team. Located some 7-8 km from the Saharsa town, the ashram is a beautiful green campus housing the technologies promoted by Kosi Seva Sadan under the Megh Pyne Abhiyan.

In his welcome note, Mr. Rajendra Jha, Secretary, Kosi Seva Sadan, shared with the participants the genesis and ideology of Kosi Seva Sadan. Briefing about the Megh Pyne Abhiyan, Mr. Rajendra shared that it was an initiative collectively launched by five NGOs in 2006 to work on the issues of water with special focus on the rain water harvesting. Kosi Seva Sadan is one of member organizations of Megh Pyne Abhiyan working in five Gram Panchayats of Saharsa district.

A welcome song was also sung by students of surrounding villages that touched heart of almost everyone present there. These students are trained by the organization for community mobilization and awareness generation through singing of songs. After the welcome note and song, George from Development Alternatives thanked the team of Kosi Seva Sadan and shared with them the genesis and objectives of Lok Awas Yatra. Mr. Prem Kumar Jha from SAMATA explained in detail the situation of rivers and floods in the districts of North Bihar and the need for intervention in these areas.

After the welcome and addresses by key persons, lunch was served by the KSS team, which was the best we had so far.

A guided tour of the KSS campus was taken by the participants to see the various technologies being developed and promoted by the KSS in the water and sanitation sector. These included matka filter, permanent filter, jal kothi (rain water harvesting structure), and faydemand shauchalaya (EcoSan). The implementation of these technologies and their impact was seen in the Pokharbinda village of Telhar Panchayat in the Saharsa district. The participants were very convinced by the EcoSan model and the concept of jal kothis.

While leaving the village at 6:30 in the evening we realized the village is still not electrified. Finding our way through the dark village roads we reached Supaul at 2000 hours, had food and retired early to recharge ourselves for a long day in store the next morning.
The Second day of the trail started at 0700 hrs , as we stepped out in the vibrant land of Sunderbans. Along with the representatives from Sabuj Sangha (SS), the vanguard of community village development in the area, we visited the village of Mohabbat Nagar, where 50 disaster (flood /cyclone) resistant and cost effective houses have been constructed for the “Poorest of the Poor and migrant families. Enthused as we took our boat to the Aila hit island of Kuemuri, we were introduced to few other households who had been supported by SS for disaster resistant housing and poultry based alternate livelihood option. We also visited the Technology park run by SS showcasing vermi-composting, Surface water treatment systems, upgraded agricultural techniques towards low water consumption, integrated farming system, Roof top Rain water harvesting and various models of toilets. We also visited the water and sanitation project spearheaded by the organization.

SS also runs educational institutions, SHGs, community centres and health initiatives in the region. The NGO has also facilitated access to the subsidy provided by the state govt. for installation of solar based electricity in several households in the village.

The day ended with a passionate exchange of ideas with Mr. Anshuman Das, Director, SS. The initiative and linkages with various govt. schemes, integrated approach to development, and future strategies towards climate change mitigation and adaptation were also discussed by the group.

We thanked Sabuj Sangha for their support and very open sharing of their experiences of working on sustainable habitat solutions in the Sunderbans Delta. The night is beautiful and the sea breeze simply breathtaking. Tomorrow we will be dwelling deeper into the issues of climate change and sustainable habitat with colleagues from GOAL and their partners and friends in Kolkatta.

The walk back to SS Guest house was not easy, the islands are confronted with multiple challenges posed by the changing climate – water table is dropping, floods are increasing, rivers are changing course, cyclones are severe, land masses are disappearing, rainfall pattern has become erratic, and agriculture is affected by saline water ingress in some areas; the already marginalized communities are now further vulnerable. There are no easy answers, the complex socio-economic and climatic vulnerabilities of the people will require actionable strategies at many levels. Technological solutions, policy advocacy and network support may be the small contributions that we could make…the islands need more of us to engage with their cause.

Bihar Trail Day - 2

Posted by Bhairab Giri Goswami at 2010-03-29 18:23
The second day of the yatra began with a heavy and spicy breakfast of chhole puri at the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare (SIHFW), Patna. After having breakfast, the yatris headed towards the Saran district of Bihar to visit the Saran Renewable Energy (SRE) Private Limited. SRE is a biomass based power generation plant located in the Garkha village of Saran district, about 90 km from Patna.

Started in 2007 by a private entrepreneur, SRE is a 150kW power plant that uses dhaincha, wood and saw dust for power generation. The power thus generated is supplied to the houses, small industries and shops in Garkha and Raipura villages. The power is also used to run motor that extracts out ground water used for irrigation by the farmers. Flour mill and roaster are also operated upon using this energy. There are in total 11 employees working in the plant. The equipment was procured from a Bangalore based company called Net Pro that imparted training as well. Dhaincha and wood are sourced from the farmers in the surrounding villages.

Interesting in the case study was the use of dhaincha for power generation, which grows on even waterlogged lands. SRE has promoted the cultivation of dhaincha by distribution of seeds to the farmers of surrounding villages and hence, enhancing the livelihood base of these farmers. Supply of water and electricity to the villagers has also enhanced their livelihoods. Moreover, cultivating dhaincha increases the land fertility. The power generated from dhaincha is of good quality and makes less carbon emission as compared to traditional sources of electricity generation.

Participants liked the idea very much and showed interest in replicating in their areas, especially in the flood affected areas of Bihar where there is still no electricity. SRE too has plans to set up more such plants in Bihar.

On return to Patna, a group discussion was held on the projects visited in the last two days. Participants shared what they saw and learned in the two case studies and how these initiatives could be made better and implemented in their respective areas. The participants were enthusiastic to visit more case studies in the coming days.

Bihar Trail Day - 1

Posted by Bhairab Giri Goswami at 2010-03-29 18:22
The first day of the Bihar trail started with an inaugural ceremony at the Tilothu Mahila Mandal (TMM) Building Centre in the Indra village, Rohtas district of Bihar. Present were the participants, basin-SA representatives, CRS and MPA representatives and TMM representatives. Dr. A.K. Principal. R.S. College, Tilothu was the guest of honour. Ms. Ranjana Sinha, Chairperson, TMM welcomed all the participants and guests. The yatra was formally inaugurated with the lighting of lamp by Dr. A.K. Singh, Ms. Ranjana Sinha and Mr. Rizwan. This was followed by a lively cultural programme organized by the TMM.

Addressing the participants and guests, Mr. Arun Kumar from CRS discussed how the issues of housing and climate change are related and why there is a need to work on the alternate technologies. Mr. Ranjeet Sinha, Founder, TMM briefly discussed about the Indira Awas Yojana and housing issues in rural Bihar. He shared with the participants the target of Bihar Government as 1.7 million rural houses and how the alternate technologies can play an important role in achieving this mission.

After the initial setting of discussions around the housing issues, Rizwan from basin-SA made a presentation on the aim and objectives of yatra and its genesis. The past experiences from the yatra and future plans were discussed. This was followed by the sharing of experiences by Mr. Eklavya Prasad of Megh Pyne Abhiyan.

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha shared about the origin of the TMM and the journey thereafter. After having the food, deliciously prepared by the TMM members, the participants visited the building centre where they were briefed about the various low carbon technologies by Mr. Ranjeet Sinha. These included mud blocks and hollow concrete blocks for walling, and circular and rectangular concrete blocks for columns, and MCR, FC channels and filler slabs for roofing. The participants also visited the school and college constructed using these technologies.

On the way back back to Patna, a visit was made to the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya, which was worth reaching back at 12 and having late dinner.

Looking forward to the coming days!!


Geetika Anand

All can be better!!!

Posted by Bhairab Giri Goswami at 2010-03-29 18:20
The Orissa trail was set off by the guiding lights for the development sector in Orissa – Mr Joe Madiath, Mr Jagadanand, Dr Kamal Lochan Mishra, Mr N.M. Prustyji and Dr Alam. The inaugural session turned out to be a passionate exchange of ideas on what needs to change and how this change can be triggered. The workshop could easily have gone on for an entire day as the guiding lights shared very similar concerns to do with rural habitat development in the country and in Orissa. There was a consensus on the need for pointed and strategic efforts for ironing out glitches in the state sponsored housing delivery processes across various stages - identification of families, access to state assistance/credit, access to value for money services and building materials and completion of the house itself. The absence of an integrated approach to habitat planning, design and implementation was conspicuous in current approaches.

Mr Jagadanand, the Information Commissioner, Government of Orissa exposed the yatris to the potential of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in addressing issues around corruption in the state sponsored housing/habitat schemes in relation to both access and quality of habitat. The potential opportunity within the RTI Act for furthering the conviction of the Lok Awaas Yatra with various ministries and department was also discussed as a tool for advocacy for state policy support.

Dr Mishra pointed to the critical links between safety, sustainability, traditional wisdom and the role of panchayats in the habitat context.

Close interaction at the Prasar Bharati hostel, the night before and the high energy of the inaugural workshop was enough to fuel the take off of the Orissa trail; as a small group of yatris collects to go to the Sunderbans. All can be better, let us set out to learn how this can be done!

Mona Anand

Sunderban Trail Day - 1

Posted by Bhairab Giri Goswami at 2010-03-29 18:18
One of the Eastern Trails of LAY is the Sunderban trail, covering the case studies, cross sharing learnings and experiences from the disaster prone area in and around sunderbans.

The first day started little late due to delayed arrival schedules of the team but ended with a positive, hopeful and inspiring note after the late evening meeting and presentation by the local NGO Sabuj Sangha who has done credible work in Sunderbans as a registered society since 1975 .The trail has been hosted by GOAL Ireland who is also one of the funding partners of Sabuj Sangha.
To get to the south 24 Paraganas from Calcutta, we travelled by car driving through the refreshing breeze of rural Bengal. The diamond harbour on the way tempted us to stop for a quick look at the sea and of course the much awaited Jhaal Moodhi!
Upon reaching Raidighi, we travelled by autos to Sabuj Sangh office at Nandkumarpur.

The Sunderban trail team was linked through GOAL to Sabuj Sangha to learn from their work in the area of disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation, low carbon & cost effective rural technologies, livelihood, Climate Change adaptation etc.
Sabuj Sangha has 4 offices including an Urban office in Kolkata, Peri unrban office in Sonarpur (Kolkata) , Registered office at Nandakumarpur and an Island office at Herambagopalpur in District South 24 Parganas.

The trail team reached at 1830 hrs at the Registered office of the NGO at Nandakumarpur village in District South 24 Parganas. The inaugural meeting took place at 1900 hrs with a round of introductions by the members of the NGO and the trail team. A token of LAY was presented by the team to the NGO partner.
Later Mr. Sudipto Burman (Incharge of the model village Programme of Sabuj Sangha) presented a brief on the vision and mission of the NGO, projects and activities, strategies and future plan of the organization.

The organization is working with villages in 7 administrative blocks under South 24 Paraganas of West Bengal including 24 pilot villages. The organization’s main objective is to work for the poorest of the poor and those most exposed to the new vulnerabilities posed by climate change.

With the challenges of having very little options for quality of life, poorest of the poor community, limited/no past strategies developed/work to deal with such communities, the NGO has done credible job based on strategies of bottom up approach, full participation of community in planning and implementation, institution building, livelihood generation, training and capacity building to ensure sustainability, policy linkage, replication and scaling up of the programme in similar areas.

With the strengths including good infrastructure, rapport with the community, long experience to work in the area, the NGO has designed, developed on ground solutions and implemented activities with full participation of the community. The NGO presented examples of work done in the area of:

low cost, disaster resistant housing technologies
water and sanitation tools
Health and nutrition
Awareness activities
Institution building and women empowerment
Training and capacity building in area of health, Income Generation Activities, formation of women SHGs, low cost disaster prone technologies etc.
Education based on accelerated learning methods through bridge resource centres.

Formation of water committees, mobilization of youth, involvement of children in awareness programmes, establishment of rural technology park, establishment of low cost and disaster prone housing technologies, providing alternative livelihood options are some of the achievements presented by the NGO.

Though the presentation was quite crisp and provided a good idea of the initiatives and achievements of the NGO there are many such areas which require more discussion in the 2nd day of the trail.

The presentation was followed by Mona giving a brief background on LAY and screening the documentary on central region trail. This was followed by a Q&A round.


The meeting ended with the finalization of the schedule for day II and listing out few documents required by the trail team from the NGO so as to understand the technical details and impacts of the project more accurately.


Day II looks forward to a field visit to the island village, meeting with artisans, visit to technology park and other demonstration sites for low carbon, cost effective technologies.

The trail team will be accompanied by the senior members of Sabuj Sangha in day II of the trail.

Orissa trail begins: "All can be better!"

Posted by geetha at 2010-03-29 02:36
The Orissa trail was set off by the guiding lights for the development sector in Orissa – Mr Joe Madiath, Mr Jagadanand, Dr Kamal Lochan Mishra, Mr N.M. Prustyji and Dr Alam.

The inaugural session turned out to be a passionate exchange of ideas on what needs to change and how this change can be triggered. The workshop could easily have gone on for an entire day as the guiding lights shared very similar concerns to do with rural habitat development in the country and in Orissa. There was a consensus on the need for pointed and strategic efforts for ironing out glitches in the state sponsored housing delivery processes across various stages - identification of families, access to state assistance/credit, access to value for money services and building materials and completion of the house itself. The absence of an integrated approach to habitat planning, design and implementation was conspicuous in current approaches.

Mr Jagadanand, the Information Commissioner, Government of Orissa exposed the yatris to the potential of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in addressing issues around corruption in the state sponsored housing/habitat schemes in relation to both access and quality of habitat. The potential opportunity within the RTI Act for furthering the conviction of the Lok Awaas Yatra with various ministries and department was also discussed as a tool for advocacy for state policy support.

Dr Mishra pointed to the critical links between safety, sustainability, traditional wisdom and the role of panchayats in the habitat context.

Close interaction at the Prasar Bharati hostel, the night before and the high energy of the inaugural workshop was enough to fuel the start of the Orissa trail; at the same time a small group of yatris collects to go to the Sunderbans. All can be better, let us set out to learn how this can be done!

Mona Anand

Orissa: Curtain Raiser-Day 1

Posted by geetha at 2010-03-29 02:31
The Orissa trail started with an inaugural ceremony where participants from Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar got together at the CYSD campus Bhubneshwar.

Some distinguished experts were present to start the Yatra. Joe Madiath, as part of the BASIN-South Asia team welcomed the participants and gave his views on rural habitat and its provision to the needy.

Ms Mona Anand gave a presentation on the objectives of the Yatra and its genesis. This was followed by a presentation by Ms Chitra from Gram Vikas on the policy imperatives for the development of rural habitat in Orissa.

Mr Kamal Misra from Orissa State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) highlighted the need for adapting the government schemes for rural habitat to the local socio economic and climatic conditions.

Mr Jagadananda, Chief information commissioner of Orissa gave an inaugural address and recounted from his years’ of experience in the development sector and gave an inspiring speech on the direction ahead. He lauded the objectives of the Yatra and suggested that the recommendations for the rural habitat policy be followed by Right to Information (RTI) pleas from Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) to add momentum in the government machinery.

Mr N.M. Prusty addressed the need to an integrated approach to rural development. The inaugural ceremony concluded with the participants sharing their expectations from the journey over the next few days.

The Yatra began with the journey to Ganjam. On the way the group passed through the beautiful countryside. The journey was marked by folk songs, fun and games and frequent peeing stops!

Looking forward to the next day!

Akshay Goyal
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
basin South Asia 2009 Designed and supported by OneWorld South Asia