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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 entitled the ‘Ecological Survey of the Paharia community in Santhal Parganas’ during 1988–1991. Through the research, the research fellows, including the current Project Holder, developed an understanding of the problems faced by the Paharia tribals and established a rapport with them. Post the research, they continued interfacing with the local communities and later formed an organization to work with the 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 a Ph.D on ‘tribal food contamination’. He has been involved in advocacy and campaigning on various child related and tribal issues.
SATHEE’s 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 is inhabited mostly by the Paharias, Santhal, Kol tribes and schedule castes. Development of the Rajmahal, Lalmatia, and Simlong projects were the main points of the land acquisition where a number of tribals were denied compensation and rehabilitation. The collapse of the traditional governance system and breaking of the community support system among the tribal community also initiated the “Satta” practice (land mortgage). Frequent drought situation and scarcity of food, lack of adequate capital for agriculture and existence of limited fertile land (2-.3%) along with community migration are a few factors which have been creating opportunities for money lenders towards extreme exploitation of the tribals.
Due to the lack of proper government schemes and the Integrated Child Development System (ICDS), children and women become the most vulnerable sections, leading to malnutrition and disease. In connection with this, women and child trafficking is also rampant and is carried out by middle-men in the name of marriage and job opportunity. Child abuse and women exploitation are common. The nexus of corrupt government officials, vested interest groups and corrupt politicians usurp the resources provided for the development of these 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. Child labor and child marriages are also rampant. SATHEE intervenes to ensure sustainable and dynamic development of the vulnerable sections of the community.
- To initiate the process for restoration of child rights through advocacy in larger Santhal Pargana.
- To strengthen the process of mobilization of the oppressed reference group through leadership building .
- To enhance the capacity of the reference group, community based organizations (CBO’s) and federations to advocate for their own rights.
- To strengthen the constitutionally sanctioned governance institutions (Gram Sabha) to take control over the natural resources.
- To build a consolidated database as a resource for greater advocacy.
Review and Impact
The major focus of SATHEE’s intervention has been on awareness building and motivating local communities for activating Gram Sabha. Through the years, massive campaigns on birth registration led to a successful ‘Child Survival Campaign’.
SATHEE has been a leading organization in prime-moving people’s mobilization processes in the Santhal Parganas. They have initiated a diversified program to strengthen traditional governance systems to take ownership of local natural resources, building self-rule in the scheduled area, monitoring government service delivery mechanisms and curbing corruption. The programs have been addressing larger issues in general and children’s issues in particular. The strength of SATHEE lies in its team of program activists who have a strong understanding of local community issues and experience in operationalizing traditional governance structures at village and block levels. There is also an opportunity of intervening in the entire Santhal Parganas through the regional level Federations.
- Total 587 births registered – including both existing and new.
- 887 children and 247 pregnant women were covered under health care and immunization support.
- 31 ICDS centers were activated and retained to ensure supplementary nutrition services for women and children.
- 326 children were mainstreamed into government formal schools.
- 44 more government schools were reactivated.
- 100% retention of all mainstreamed children was ensured in 8 more schools.
- In 13 more villages, 100% eligible children were enrolled in government schools.
- 11 child workers were removed from the workforce and enrolled into government schools.
- 78 children’s collectives were strengthened and capacities developed.
- Child survival campaign and ensuring immunizations and birth registration for children
- 15 Bal Sanghs (children’s groups) will carry out the post card campaign, immunization, registration
- Linkage of the children with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for nutrition and immunization through the Gram Sabha and Mata Samiti in the villages
- Health check up camps for the children ensured by the government.
- People’s mobilization against possible displacement and land acquirement by the RPG for the electric sub station .
- Child survival campaign on birth registration, immunization & regular health check ups by the government health centers.
- Capacity building training of the girls from the Bal Sangh on child trafficking issues.
- Orientation of the Bal Sangh on local history, tribal culture, power of the Gram Sabha and other welfare programs for the tribal school going children.
- Focus on the youth mobilization process.
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