on the details of
16 intervention villages (old) + Kanwali slum of Dehradun (new) of Uttarakhand, India.
Mountain Children’s Foundation (MCF) was formed by Aditi P Kaur in 2003, to bring changes in lives of the communities living in the mountain state of Uttarakhand. Since inception, the organisation endeavours to create an environment for sustainable development of communities in partnership with local organisations. MCF is creating a state-wide network of children that can harness the power of collective action to make their voices heard and their concerns noted. It has evolved a model based on cooperation and collaboration among development organisations, building a network of 35 partners across the state, reaching more than 12,000 children in rural villages around Uttarakhand. The challenges being faced by children in mountain communities are not confined to a single issue, so MCF has to work on a spectrum of issues violating child rights, hygiene and sanitation conditions, health, education, environment, governance and disaster preparedness. MCF’s disaster mitigation and management campaign in 2005 carved out a realm for children in this area. Currently the organisation is operating in 16 villages of Vikas Nagar Block in Dehradun district.
The 16 villages in CRY supported project areas include 1,239 households with a total population of 7,319. Of these, 53.3% are male and 46.7% are female. There is high percentage of Schedule Caste population which has always been underserved in Uttarakhand. Dehradun district has been mapped as critical on Education, Health, Malnutrition and Protection issues. Keeping in view, the poor institutional delivery (<55%), there have been huge gaps in health infrastructure and health personnel in the district. Infrastructure and quality of schools is far below RTE provisions. In terms of severe malnutrition among children, Dehradun district ranks second in Uttarakhand. Besides, this district also faces child protection issues with more number of children engaged in child labor, child marriage and high incidence of crime against children as compared to other districts Since the district is grappled with multiple CR issues which are critical in nature, strategic interventions to address these issues is highly required. The intensity of child rights violations is likely to intensify due to the recent natural disaster in the state which has impacted the entire state directly and indirectly.
A large percent of the population (over 35%) are Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. Over 82% of the children do not have birth registration certificates which shows that the right of the child to an identity is not being given. The quality of education is suspect at the basic school level as the number of rooms and teachers are very low. There are no Public Health Centres (PHC’s) in these 16 villages. About 70% of children between 1-5 years are not enrolled in ICDS centres. Only 200 children go to the Anganwadi (pre-primary) centers. In the operational area, 12 villages have Anganwadi centers but the number is still not enough to cater to the population in the area. Children in most of the cases stop education after primary schools as there are no high schools in the project area.
- To sensitize child facilitators, parents and children's collective on child rights issues.
- To capacitate child facilitators to facilitate children’s collective processes in line with defined principles of child participation.
- To ensure effective functioning of children's collectives with support of children, parents and community to bring positive changes in lives of children.
- To ensure that leadership skills among children’s groups is groomed and they are able to represent at various forums to express their views on issues impacting their lives.
- Child-led indicators developed through children’s collective process for assessment and further strengthening of the participation process in intervention areas.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
The team has built a good rapport with the communities as well as with children in intervention areas. Through different processes, the team has been able to provide required platforms to children to express their voices on child rights issues. The team also has young and enthusiastic members who have a strong will to take forward the child rights processes and raise the issues at various levels. The team with support from CRY has also actively taken up field level surveys on status of toilets, status of ICDS centres, schools, documentation of children’s voices etc and intends to take up the issues in the coming years with different stakeholders. Health and malnutrition issues have been critical in the district.
The team has also published a manual on child participation and a pictorial on child rights based on their experiences which will be of great use to partners working on child participation in the state. Children’s views and forums like the children’s collective meeting has started being accepted by the duty bearers. Major achievements in the review period include:
- Capacity building of team members done on leadership, communication, and the UNCRC.
- Mapping children’s collectives was done to assess status of children's engagement in collectives, regularity and participation. This led to increased interaction between the children and the Panchayat.
- Children collectively carried out tree plantation in the field area as a result of which the Panchayat also participated in the plantation drive initiated by the children.
- The interface with the PRI was strengthened and the demands of children regarding health and hygiene were given due importance by the Gram Pradhans.
- Village meetings have been regularly conducted in intervention villages on health, nutrition, gender discrimination, sensitization on girl child education etc. 7 panchayat representatives and ward members participated in the children groups’ meetings.
- Group activities were undertaken with the aim to inculcate leadership skills among children. Children exhibited confidence in the orientation of parents about child rights.
Sangeeta of Devthala had stopped going to school in Grade 6 because her mother was unwell. The mother recovered but Sangeeta, now diffident and apprehensive about all the days she had missed, was still missing school. Members of the “Kiran Bal Sangathan” realizing that she was not going to school informed the facilitator, who then visited Sangeeta at her house. They convinced her to go back to school and spoke to the school to allow Sangeeta to attend school again. She is now back in school in Grade 7 and is an active member of the “Kiran Bal Sangathan”.
The district of Dehradun is mapped as critical on issues of health and malnutrition and moderately critical on issues of Education and Protection.
Focus 1: Strengthening child participation through Bal Sangathans
- Maintain record of monthly meeting minutes of village level Bal Sangathans.
- Feedback and testimonials to be documented through meetings with parents and community.
- Maintain records of discussions with children to identify conflicts or deterrents in their group.
- Identified issues depicted by children in the form of cartoons to be maintained.
Focus 2: Strengthening the understanding of parents, Pradhans, ward members on child rights
- Feedback from the participants to be available through assessment of training impact.
- Report of the refresher training for parents, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) members, and Ward members prepared.
- Participation of children in village panchayat annual meetings will give children a platform to voice their opinions; children’s issues will be brought center stage at the panchayat level and acceptance of child participation at the panchayat level.
- Documentation of concerns/suggestions of parents and community members through regular informal meetings.
Focus 3: Increased understanding on Nutrition and change in eating behaviour
- Report of state level workshop on nutrition prepared.
- Presentation by children at workshops on the work they have done on nutrition.
- Mapping of food habits through village level workshops on nutrition.
Focus 4: Widening the scope of sanitation and hygiene from the home to schools
- Healthy home survey report prepared. Building toilets by community members who do not have toilets are being taken up.
- Healthy school survey resulted into more hygienically cooked mid day meals; dustbins present in each class, clean drinking water in schools; toilets in schools being properly used and kept clean.
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