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Society for Advancement in Tribes, Health, Education, and Environment (SATHEE) originated in the course of a Government of India sponsored research project ‘Ecological Survey of ‘Paharia’ community in Santhal Parganas’ during 1988–1991. Through the research the research fellows, including the current Project Holder, developed a rapport and understanding of the problems faced by the Paharia tribals. Post the research, they continued interface with the local communities and later formed an organization to work with Paharia tribals. SATHEE was registered in 1996 with a view to work for mobilizing the deprived ‘Paharias’ to fight for their rights. The founder member of the organization, Dr. Niraj Kumar has done his post graduation in life sciences and Ph.D in ‘tribal food contamination’. He has been involved in advocacy and campaigning on various child related and tribal issues.
The SATHEE intervention covers 10 villages each of Mandro block and Ramgarh block of Dumka district and Sundar Pahari block from Godda district, Jharkhand. The area of Santhal Pargana is rich in natural resources like coal, forest products and stone. The operational area is an isolated district of the Rajmahal hills and inhabited mostly by the Paharias, Santhal, Kol tribes and schedule castes. Development of the Rajmahal, Lalmatia, Simlong project was the main point of the land acquisition where a number of tribals have been denied compensation and rehabilitation. The collapse of the traditional governance system and breaking of community support system among the tribal community also initiated the “Satta” (land mortgage) practice. Frequent drought situation and scarcity of food, lack of adequate capital for agriculture and existence of limited fertile land (2-3%) with the community and migration are some factors that have allowed exploitation of the tribals by the money lenders.
Due to the lack of proper Govt schemes and the ICDS, children and women become the most vulnerable leading to malnutrition and disease proneness. In connection with this, women and child trafficking is also rampant and is carried by middle men in the name of marriage, job opportunity etc. Child abuse and women exploitation are common. The nexus of corrupt government officials and politicians and vested interest groups exploit the resources provided for the development of tribal communities. In summer there is scarcity of safe drinking water and traditional water harvesting systems from the hills and fountains gradually collapse. The inadequacy of employment opportunities, poor agricultural growth due to poor land management systems and continuous drought compel local inhabitants to migrate out. Child labour and child marriages are rampant. SATHEE intervenes to ensure sustainable and dynamic development of vulnerable sections of the community through ensuring their entitlements.
- To initiate the process for restoration of child rights through advocacy in larger Santhal Parganas.
- To strengthen the process of community mobilization of the oppressed through leadership building process.
- To enhance the capacity of the reference group, community based organizations and leadership groups to advocate their own rights.
- To strengthen the constitutionally sanctioned governance institutions (Gram Sabha) to take control over natural resources.
- To build solid data base towards larger advocacy.
From the past few years SATHEE has focused on strengthening the Gram Sabhas and on the evolution of the Damin Adhikar Morcha, enhancing the reach and control over the critical services and generating the movement against the exploitation by the mahajans and asserting voice of the marginalized people against corrupt Government programs. Building the community for the larger policy level advocacy in Damin area was another core emphasis.
Major achievements include –
- 15 Children Sanghs at the village level and one Children Sangh at Damin level are empowered towards their rights.
- 456 children were mainstreamed in the formal education, out of which 125 children were earlier working and dropped out children.
- 135 disabled children were linked to the certification process and social security program.
- 100% birth registration of new borns was ensured by the Gram Sabha.
- The body mass index status of all children was mapped in 30 villages to identify their nutritional status.
- Children's groups were formed at the block level - 25 Adolescent Girls Group (AGG) at village level and 4 at block level were formed and sensitized towards health, nutrition and social evils.
- Children's cultural teams were formed in 15 villages.
- 66 Mahila Mandals (women’s groups) were empowered and motivated on child and women trafficking and sexual abuse issues.
- Help was extended to sort out the problems of 5 violence affected women by the Mahila Sangh.
- 8 health camps were organized covering 126 villages in the area.
- Block level community pressure was exerted to activate the Primary Health Centers /AWC in all blocks by the Mahila Sangh.
- 60 Damin Adhikar Manch leaderships groups have been trained on the Right To Information, right to food, right to work, right to education and other social security programs.
Operationalization of the traditional local governance structures, at village and block levels, has rendered a sense of community ownership to the intervention. SATHEE is a leading organization which has been primemoving the people’s movement process in Santhal Parganas and are also leading the state alliance in DAMIN area towards addressing the people’s issues by re-establishing the traditional governance systems. They have initiated a diversified program to strengthen the traditional governance systems to take ownership of the natural resources, building leaderships groups in the scheduled area, monitoring the government programs after curbing the corruption. The organizational program has been addressing the larger issues and very strategically the children issues.
- Expanding the intervention area in 10 villages each of Mandro block and Ramgarh block of Dumka district and Sundar Pahari block from Godda district.
- Bal Sanghs (children’s groups) will monitor 19 primary schools in the operational area.
- The community will be organized on education issues and the Village Education Committee will be activated under the Gram Sabha.
- Enrolment drives will be organized to mainstream drop out children.
- Physically challenged children will be linked with registration and social security programs.
- Children Sanghs (groups) and the community will be motivated on education and disability issues.
- Child Survival campaign encompassing birth registrations, immunization, nutrition issues would be strengthened.
- Recording the body mass index of children to identify and map the nutritional status in rest 30 villages will be conducted and the report will be disseminated at the block level.
- Health monitoring will be carried out in 20 villages by the Village Health Committees.
- Mahila Sangh [Women's Collectives] will meet on a monthly basis and will raise their voice against the defunct ICDS, PDS and sub centres.
- Gram Sabha [GS] will take ownership of the stone mines and ponds, which have been controlled by the government or mahajans.
- Collective farming process will be carried out in 20 gram sabhas.
- Forest cooperatives will be formed in all blocks.
- Damin level regional alliance meeting of the Women’s Forum will be organized quarterly on the issues of women atrocities, social security for women and inclusion of women in the government schemes.
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