on the details of
Mahan Seva Sansthan (MSS) began its development efforts to benefit tribal families of 20 villages spread over 4 panchayats (Kolyari, Amivada, Panerva and Birothi) and has now spread to over 9 Panchayats, covering 60 villages in Jhadol Block and 5 villages in Kotra Block. The Project Holder, Mr. Lalit Joshi started the organization, with a few like-minded friends, with a view to address caste based exploitation and discrimination issues. Over the years, his focus has shifted towards facilitating community collective action to ensure children’s rights and reducing discrimination. Currently, Mahan Seva Sansthan is working in 46 villages (phallahs) across 26 revenue villages spread over 8 Panchayats of Jhadol tehsil in Udaipur district of Rajasthan.
The identified villages are small scattered hamlets, predominantly inhabited by tribal communities. Around 66% of the population belongs to the tribal community and 70% of the population is below the poverty line. Most of the tribal population resides in the forest and do not possess the documents for their land. Approximately 80% of the families depend on agriculture as their mainstay occupation. The region is mostly arid with scanty rainfall and recurrent droughts. This renders agriculture unproductive, thus compelling migration into neighbouring districts and states in search of alternate livelihoods. The problem of potable water also persists in the area. The area is prone to the threat of displacement from the proposed Manasi Wankal Dam [11 catchment villages belong to the project area].
Children continue to be the worst affected. As families migrate, children accompany their parents in many cases and get engaged in the unorganized labor force that is exploitative. The situation is no better even if they do not accompany their parents – they are then required to take charge of the household, including the livestock owned by the family. Children are also engaged in collective minor forest produce. Social customs like the ‘Nata system’ are prevalent – that completely denies recognition of women as equal members of the society who are capable of taking decisions on their own. Health awareness is very poor in the region. Awareness about issues like sanitation, mother and child-care is almost non-existent. Of the total child population, around 60% children have early marriages. Early marriages inevitably lead to early pregnancies.
- Ensuring access to government education facilities and quality education for all children.
- Ensuring regular pre-natal care for all pregnant women and post-natal care for lactating mothers by linking up with government run programs.
- Ensuring 100% immunization and health check ups for all children.
- To ensure mainstreaming and enrolment of children of the project village in government schools and strengthening government schools in the region.
- To mobilize the community against exploitative forces and address issues of caste and gender based discriminations.
- To advocate at local and state government levels for development of the region and fulfillment of child rights.
Review and Impact
Mahan has adopted the rights based approach over the past few years and is today better known for community based organizations promoted by it. The organization has been instrumental in forming and strengthening ‘Bal Panchayats’ (children’s leadership) to enhance the concept of child participation. Through its intervention, Mahan has succeeded in making significant progress in completing birth registrations of all children, enrolment of children in government schools and in its intervention on the displacement issue. Access to Government facilities have been facilitated for the community. Overall Mahan lays emphasis on realization of protection and participation rights of children.
- 1551 children were enrolled in 16 ICDS centres and received supplementary nutrition support.
- Around 88% children were completely immunized.
- 90% children (2301 children) were enrolled in the 26 (government) primary schools and 4 middle schools of the area.
- Forum of Dai’s (traditional birth attendants) was formed and its membership was broad based.
- 90 wells were chlorinated by the local community members to ensure provision of safe drinking water.
- 52 community collectives were formed across 30 villages and empowered to address rights violation issues.
- 2 new Bal Panchayats (children’s groups) were formed and the total 7 Bal Panchayats were strengthened.
- Reduction in Infant (0 – 1 yrs) Mortality Rates and Child (1 – 5 yrs) Mortality Rates by ensuring regular health, nutrition and immunization support for all children and pregnant women.
- Awareness building on birth registration, nutrition and selection of BPL families. Strengthening monitoring process by community participation.
- Activation of government health and education services in the reference villages.
- Increased involvement of the Panchayat on education issues.
- Awareness building on the implications of child marriage in the community.
- Strengthening community level action against gender discrimination, female feticide and child marriages.
- Process documentation of various children groups, their phase of growth and understanding development.
- Bal Panchayats to be strengthened and federated.
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