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Lok Awaas Yatra Western Region

by amar posted on 2010-04-28 12:47 last modified 2010-04-28 12:47
The Western Region Yatra scheduled between 17-21 January 2010 covered Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat and Western Rajasthan. It culminated in a Regional Seminar at Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), in Ahmedabad that identified key enablers for enhancing the quality of rural habitats in the Western Region.

Resource on Wheels

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:24
I traveled with the Western Region Yatra, and found it very beneficial in terms of broadening my knowledge. In a single word I can say that this yatra is an “INFORMATION OR RESOURCE CENTER ON WHEELS”. It addressed issues related to either pre-disaster preventive techniques or post disaster mitigation
techniques.

I best like the project regarding the component of basic services, specifically the drinking water initiative done by the organization PARAB influenced me very much. They have drawn a unique concept to utilize the local resources and have also implemented it very well to reduce the devastating impact of disaster.

The most beautiful thing which I learnt from this Yatra is building relationship with other organization. I think developing network and building healthy relationship with other likeminded organization is very good and necessary, especially when you are working for vulnerable community.

To conduct any event, it is mandatory to have a comprehensive, structured yet flexible plan to achieve the desired objective. The distance between the fields should be less, so that participants can see more and more projects and develop better insight about the disaster mitigation techniques.

I am quite impressed with the participation from and coordination from the management side. Every participant was involved in all activities, which is definitely a good sign of success and creates a pathway of opportunity to learn more and more from the executed understanding or knowledge of participants. In one word I can say that this yatra is a center of “uniformity in Diversity”.

Roshan Gabhane

Saurashtra trail day 3 of Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:24
Waking up in a village is a different experience especially at 5.30 in the morning when even the sun isn’t out. We woke up in Mayapur, and after a struggle of an hour of getting everyone dressed, we managed to take a tour of the village to look at their dairy farm & the village drainage system, two things that the villagers seemed to be quite proud of.

After the tour was over we got every one to rush into the bus, to leave for our next destination, which was the Khirij village, where an organization called ANANDI had a great presence and had done a lot for rehabilitation of the village post the 2001 earthquake.

The discussion of the rehabilitation of the village and the livelihoods created was largely centered on the temporary structures set up in the village post the earthquake, and how the women had a great part to play in the rehabilitation of the village.

Post the discussion we walked a little to a part of the village to see the temporary structures which seemed to have become the permanent houses of the villagers. The village women also very excitedly showed us the tiny village school that six women had built together.

Then we saw the chakki of one of the women, which she had bought with a loan from ANANDI, and before the buying the chakki, her land was mortgaged but after her earnings were so much that she managed to get her land back with her earnings and a small loan from the village SHG group. Now she was facing another problem, which she smilingly told us she would tackle, indicative of the sense of empowerment she felt.

After having a look at all these features of interest, we then had lunch at the main village school, which was delicious in true Gujarati style, and we got a taste of a real village experience. Once everyone was well fed, we jumped back onto the bus to begin our 6 hour long journey to Keshod.

We arrived at the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services office late evening. The participants enthusiastically learnt about the sanitation model that AKPBS offers. Tomorrow we will visit actual project sites.

Dinner was eventful with the driver bhaiya asking for his quota of dal fry! Waiting for the big day tomorrow now!

Saurashtra Trail day 2 of Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:23
Bandhwad Village :

Day 1 on the Saurastra trail took us to Bandhwad village in Patan district of Gujarat. This village is a witness to the growing empowerment of rural women in India. After the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 the banjara community of the village decided to take the habitat reconstruction process in their own hands. Led by the women members they fought for their land rights and with support from the SEWA they constructed the nayaghar , or the ‘new house’ which had been a collective dream for generations. 50 houses were constructed, each brick laid, a testimonial to the struggle this community had to undertake for basic shelter. Every new house was earthquake proof, had a kitchen and a toilet and eDegam

Day two of the yatra started well, with our visit to the Degam village. We were welcomed quite ceremoniously by the villagers with a lot of eagerness and excitement regarding the events that may follow. In fact a group of young girls performed for us on the local folk songs.

Sitting in the angan of one of the villager’s houses a discussion ensued between the participants and the villagers. The participants asked about the village with great enthusiasm and the villagers readily and actively gave them the information. The discussion was largely centered on the Nayaghar initiative of SEWA. The village had 30 houses constructed through this initiative, post the Gujarat earthquake. The participants were really interested in knowing how they have built these houses to be low cost as well as disaster proof. To construct these houses the villagers with SEWA’s guidance formed a committee of 7 women and 4 men, who carried on the responsibility of having these houses built. These houses had a roof made of tiles and there was an additional supporting sturucture of plywood to prevent them from caving in, in case of a disaster and this also helped keep the house nice and cool. Some houses were also designed to cash in on rain water harvesting as this area was deprived of good drinking water.

We also discussed with the women, the work of the SHG’s in the village, especially the one which worked on solar lamps assembly and repair. 15 women were part of this SHG, but after training was given by SEWA only 5 to 6 of the women, took up the real interest in this initiative and are actively doing the work. These women were part of our discussions, and proactively explained to us the use and the benefits of the panels, and how they had empowered them to earn a livelihood. In fact, training to make such lamps was given to those women who needed the regular employment for sustenance. They mostly spoke in terms of how much these lamps were of help to the salt workers of Rann, as these lamps used the advantage of excessive sunlight in the desert and gave the workers a safe, cheap and reliable source of light.

All the participants despite the high heat, excitedly looked around the village and took part in the discussions, and finally we all enjoyed a wonderful meal at the village with fantastic homemade dhoklas.

Post lunch, we made a trip into the Rann, to have a look at the way salt is baked in the region. The workers stayed in makeshift houses in the Rann for the major part of the year that is 8 months in highly adverse conditions and no guarantee of quality salt that would help them earn a decent livelihood. The whole trip was an eye opener in terms of the hard work these people have to put in for a little amount of money. It was more or less a gamble for them, but a necessary one, for lack of an alternate means of livelihood.



Mayapur Village :

Mayapur village lies in Surendernagar district of Gujarat. It is a small village of 110 families and is an excellent example of Panchayat led action for village development. This village has won the nirmal gram award in 2007 and is now under consideration for the gokul gram scheme.

The yatris were given a traditional welcome to this village after which the discussion with the community was held in the temple premises. This meeting continued till 9 Pm in the evening, during which the development of the village was analyzed and lessons learnt by the participants.

The story of this village begins after the earthquake of Gujarat. The village was completely rebuilt with the help of RSS. Led by a dynamic Panchayat this village became 100% open defecation free, with an underground drainage system, in a period of few years. The sanitation campaign was followed by infrastructure building, like cemented roads and schools. All this development was led by the Panchayat in a transparent manner and the villagers were aware of each and every paisa spent by them. All this was facilitated by social change leading to complete banning of alcohol, gutka and gambling in the village. Villagers were encouraged to preserve trees. The village has 3 women SHG groups which undertake a variety of activities. The water and electricity services are also managed by Panchayat committees.

The yatris will take a tour of the village tomorrow.
Our visit today was welcomed by a delegation of the same women. A community discussion followed where participants from various parts of India learnt about the reconstruction process. The women also told us about the cement brick making unit which they had set up. Amid the traditional welcome songs and the consequent discussions with the community, what stood out was the spirit of these people – a spirit for change, for the right to live with dignity.

Saurashtra Trail day 1 of Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:23
Bandhwad Village :


Day 1 on the Saurastra trail took us to Bandhwad village in Patan district of Gujarat. This village is a witness to the growing empowerment of rural women in India. After the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 the banjara community of the village decided to take the habitat reconstruction process in their own hands. Led by the women members they fought for their land rights and with support from the SEWA they constructed the nayaghar , or the ‘new house’ which had been a collective dream for generations. 50 houses were constructed, each brick laid, a testimonial to the struggle this community had to undertake for basic shelter. Every new house was earthquake proof, had a kitchen and a toilet and even a rain water collection system.

Our visit today was welcomed by a delegation of the same women. A community discussion followed where participants from various parts of India learnt about the reconstruction process. The women also told us about the cement brick making unit which they had set up. Amid the traditional welcome songs and the consequent discussions with the community, what stood out was the spirit of these people – a spirit for change, for the right to live with dignity.

Saurashtra Trail day 1 of Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:22
Inaugural Session :

The inaugural session of the Saurashtra trail of the Lok Awaas Yatra was at SEWA’s Kamla Sadan campus in Radhanpur. It was attended by Neetaben and Savitaben of Sewa, and a number of other people involved in the different activities of SEWA, especially from SEWA Nirman. The session started with a prayer and an introduction of the participants of the yatra. This was followed by an introduction of the work of SEWA by Savitaben. Then Mumtazben from the Kamla sadan campus, talked about how SEWA penetrated into the Radhanpur area, and the various difficulties they faced. The process was gradual, as the village women did not trust the organization. Today, the gradual process has led to an organization of 12 lakh women all over Gujarat and seven other states of India.

Post this brief of the organization, Neetaben told us about the SEWA Nirman company, which has been set up as a profit making organization, having 5000 masons as shareholders. The company was set up to empower the construction workers and subsequently sell their skills for a profit. It is made up of 40% women, which is a great achievement for the organization.

Once we got an introduction on the company, which is closely related to the objectives of the yatra, as the company tries to work with low energy technology, Mona Anand, gave the participants a presentation on the yatra, to enable them to understand what is the yatra aiming for, and why SEWA in the Saurashtra region is such a big part of the yatra. This was followed by a brief on the Nayaghar initiative of SEWA by Sairaben, as the first village we were going to visit was one where this initiative played a big part, that is the Bhandhwad village.

During the session we also got to hear the story of Gauriben, and the adversity they faced at home, when they joined SEWA and started earning. The villagers mistrusted their work and taunted them all the time. It is only when SEWA intervened and brought them to see where the women work and what do they do that the villagers understood the greatness of the work being done by women and the fact that they are gainfully employed.

After the session was over, we got a tour of the Kamla Sadan campus, where we saw the tools and equipments library where villagers from that district can borrow what they need for a small rent. Moreover, the equipment held by the library is also that which the villagers ha decided themselves according to their need. Models of the houses being made under the SEWA Nirman Company and the Nayaghar initiative were also shown.

Rajasthan Trail day 1 of Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:22
EXPERIENCE OF THE DAY

The day started early in Bharatpur with a heavy fog. The inauguration started late but went off well. After the flag off of the yatra, we moved on straight to Borai village.

In the village of Borai we visited a farm. This farm was one of the many farms in the village in which LUPIN had helped set up a bio gas plant. Along with this, the farm also had a milk chilling facility installed. Fresh milk is brought from other farms and stored here helping the farmers generate income from any small amount of excess milk that they can produce.

Small indigenous innovations, like a shed on the fader cutter and methods of feeding cattle and collection of dung were interesting.

Lunch had been arranged at Barkheda village. Before lunch we had a short cultural event in which many people of our group along with the people of the village participated.

The best part of the day was the lunch, Dal, bati, Churma, yuummy…. I would love to come back for it again.
After the great jamming session and amazing lunch, we moved on to our next project of visit in the same village..

The main emphasis of LUPIN in this village was the rebuilding of houses. This is being done by providing loans to the people and helping them build a livelihood hence empowering them to repay the loans.
Most villagers were actively involved and had built houses for themselves in the design of their choice.

But as far as sanitation is concerned, the provision of toilets in the houses is still not readily accepted.

The day ended with dinner at a at a dhaba on the highway on the way to Tilonia village to get a few hours of sleep.

IInd day of Kutch Trail of Western region - Lok Awaas yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:21
Sharroo Che

After a very long day that started at six at the morning and ended at one in the morning again...here we are sharing our experiences of the day.

The second day of the yatra saw more inter-mingling of the yatris, singing songs, playing antakshri, cracking jokes, and eating street food on the way.

It was a great opportunity to meet people from Parab (Technical Unit of ACT, Kutch), which is an one of its own kind organization. They are doing some great work for solving the water problem of the Abdassa Taluka in Kutch. We also visited a village called Karmatta where they have fully implemented the water project.

After the heated discussions with Parab and village people, we went to the beach (YES...Arabian Sea!!!) and had a great time over there...the water is much cleaner than many of the sea shores in India...it was simply amazing to see the vast expanse of water... :). The bus journey also made us view the sun rise at 7.30 in the morning, topography of the Kutch region and numerous windmills installed by Suzlon which was never ending.
The long unending day finished with a very good dinner with all yatri bens and bhais. The discussion was really awesome. Yatris learnt so many lessons from the projects and villages we visited in this last two days.
The day showcase was barefoot engineers of PARAB.

Badoi sharoo che
CHAOS.

rizwan, geetika, vinit, swati...

IInd day of Kutch Trail of Western region - Lok Awaas yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:20
In my views LOK AWAAS YATRA is going to be a stepping stone for the policy making process in our country which has not changed from last 60 years. Policy are said to be made for the people but people were never involved in the process of policy making and we are trying to do that in a big way through LOK AWAAS YATRA by bringing different sections of society at one platform and letting their voice heard.

The YATRA in last two days has led me to thinking that DECENTRALIZED and PEOPLE ORIENTED system in majority of aspect of housing development of village is a better approach to the problem faced as it brings a sense of responsibilities and belonging amongst the people. But this process is a time consuming as it has many people involved in it and result has to match every bodies temperament.

Yatri Nikhil bhai(Kutch trail) – A rep of HUNNARSHALA

Launch & Inaugural of Kutch Trail, Western Region - Lok Awaas Yatra

Posted by amar at 2010-04-28 10:19
Date: Januray 17, 2010
Place: UNNATI CAMPUS, BHACHAU, Kutch

The trail was inaugurated by Shri. Dinesh bhai, Director, Gram Swaraj Sangh,Kutch who is a strong follower of gandhian and vinoba bhaves philosophy. He shared his viewpoints on the reconstruction and policy contents. He also shared his experiences on disaster reconstruction works happened in last one decade in Gujarat.

Welcoming and addressing the participants Bhanu bhai setout the objective of the LAY and emphasised that sharing is very important for the success of the yatra and the intiative taken by basin-South Asia.

The nuts and bolts of the yatra and the trails with the special focus on the Kutch trail were detailed out to the yatris by Rizwan, representative of basin-SA, Development Alternatives.

Starting from the UNNATI campus the trail made it first visit to Nagavalidiya village where we all yatris saw the post earthquake re-construction works carried out by EFFICOR with technical support from Developemnt Alternatives. Key highlights of the intervention was the Ferrocement channels and cement blocks.

After just managing to stuff our self with some pao bhaji and bread bhaji, with an apetiser(CHACH) we reached Kunariya gram, near rudramata dam and saw some breath taking handicrafts...The scattered BHUNGAS which is traditional gujarati houses mark the built-scape of the gram. The interseting part was the cocktail of traditional bhungas with disaster resistant technologies.

The feast to the eyes was the visit to Rudramata dam and where we had done some fun photo shoot after travelling for more than six hours.

The travelling along the roads and landscape of kutch is nice.

People please travel to this part to see the best.

Keep watching the space for more details and some funny moments.

ALL IZZZ WELL

CHAOS.

Yatri Rizwan bhai, Yatri Geetika ben, Yatri Vinit bhai, Yatri Swati ben and few more names you can find out tomorrow only. so please do log on and leave your blessings.
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
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