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Background

Gram Swaraj Sangh (GSS) was founded by Manibhai Sanghavi (Dineshbhai’s father), along with some of his friends in 1976. It started interventions by setting up a small school for 50 children of the Koli community, in the Rapar block of Kutch. Today the organization works in 120 villages with the issues of education, health, watershed management and livelihood. It works with educational issues in Bhachau and Rapar blocks through it’s sister organizations, Sushil Trust and Maganbhai Soni Samrak Trust respectively. At present GSS and its associate organizations run various schools which cover more than 700 children (1st to 10th std.), especially from scheduled caster (SC’s), scheduled tribe (ST’s), Bakshi Panch (Other Backward Castes) and other economically deprived communities. GSS has also initiated activities like ‘Amber Spinning Centers’ and ‘Khadi Bhandars’ to tackle the issue of livelihood and women are also engaged in economic activities. GSS undertakes many activities for the development of women and children, with the help of various government and funding agencies. For intervention this year, GSS has retained 24 of the old vands (hamlets) where it was working through the activity centers and has chosen 16 new vands (hamlets), which is a total of 40 vands (hamlets) for direct action with the children.

Situation

This is one of the most backward areas in the Kutch region. The region is generally arid, highly drought prone and extremely vulnerable to natural calamities. It has suffered from flash floods and a devastating earthquake. In the last ten years, the government has spent Rs. 600 crores on drought relief work, most of which has been short term and unsustainable. Major benefits of the relief work have gone to big and middle level farmers rather than the vulnerable marginal farmers. There is an acute shortage of drinking water in many villages of Wagad. 80% of the population is from the scheduled tribes (mainly Desi Kolis and Parkara Kolis) and the remaining population are Dalits and Muslims. Majority of the population survive on labor intensive activities, including daily wage work and agricultural labor.

The hamlets are excluded from various government health programs. Integrated Child Development Centers (ICDS) and the Public Distribution System (PDS) are defunct in the area. Immunization of children and pregnant women is irregular. Infant mortality was very high and has come down from 145 to 85 due to GSS’ interventions. 55% of the children are not covered under immunization. Only 6% of the eligible children from 3 hamlets are covered by the ICDS program. The situation is worse due to the frequent migration of the families.

Objectives

  • Ensure activation and availability of government services for health, education, water supply, electricity and other basic amenities for the reference community.
  • Capacitate people’s organization to demand accountability from the government for better functioning of the services.
  • Strengthen the Ghar Adhikar Sanghtan and the Bhoomi Adhikar Manch to ensure housing rights and land rights through community mobilization at the local level.
  • Reduce child labor by 50% in Rapar urban area, sensitize the urban community and enroll 200 identified working children in formal education.
  • To ensure participation of 50% women in all community leadership building processes.
  • Strengthen the organization of Bal Vrindh (children’s collective) and build visibility, thus increasing the participation level of children in the change process.

Review and Impact


Gram Swaraj Sangh (GSS) has been working on ensuring holistic child rights among the marginalized communities. Community collectives that have evolved in the past few years have been struggling for realizing the rights of the community. The organization has developed an understanding on the rights based approach and has been implementing the project based on this approach.

Highlights in the review period include:

  • 77% pregnant women and 46% children were provided immunization support.
  • Issue of birth registration was taken up with community groups and children’s groups.
  • 94% children in the age group of 6 – 14 years were enrolled into government schools.
  • 91% retention was ensured of children in schools.
  • Electric supply was facilitated for 12 new vands (hamlets) through community action.
  • Water supply was regularized for 15 new vands (hamlets) through community action.
  • In 55 hamlets, 915 people received employment opportunities through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREG).
  • Action plan to reduce child labor was developed in 4 hamlets.
  • GSS also initiated Pehel, a platform for all hamlet leaders to come together to raise community issues.
  • GSS initiated dialogue with government health officials and Public Distribution System (PDS) shop owners to improve the services provided to the community.
  • Kishori mandals (adolescent girl’s collectives) and mahila mandals (women’s groups) were formed in all hamlets and some of them were provided with inputs on child rights and human rights issues.

Plans

  • Efforts for 100% immunization of pregnant women and children. A database on pregnant women and children to be immunized will be developed.
  • Birth registrations will continue.
  • The drives for 100% Enrollment (6-14 years) and 100% Retention (6- 18 years) will continue.
  • 3 new government primary schools will be demanded.
  • Follow up on 15 earlier demanded schools will be undertaken.
  • Village Education Committees (VEC’s) will be active in all these hamlets.
  • At least 88 child laborers will be removed from work and at least 34 will be rehabilitated.
  • Lobbying with the government will be undertaken for the proper rehabilitation of the cild laborers.
  • Bal Jagat (6 issues) will be regularly published.
  • Children will be sensitized on their rights through strengthening of the 99 existing children’s groups and 10 new children’s groups will be formed.

ANNUAL FINANCIAL SUMMARY

  • Right to Development
    $10,060
  • Right to Survival
    $13,181
  • Right to Protection
    $11,433
  • Right to Participation
    $9,192
  • Administration
    $7,863
  • Total Grant Approved
    $51,729