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Society for Promotion of Rural Education and Development (SPREAD) was formed in 1989, to work for the betterment of the underprivileged section of society. In the early stages of the intervention, the project team tried to understand the problems of the displaced tribal community of Koraput, who were alienated from their source of livelihood (due to loss of land and common property) to make way for a major hydro-electric project, Damanjodi by NALCO. With the insights gained from this intervention, the organization expanded its work to the displaced communities of two other projects, Kolab and Macchkund. Vidyut Mohanty, the Project Holder has been working in the development sector for the last 15 years on the issues of gender, participatory approach, advocacy and PME (program, monitoring and evaluation). He started work with dalit children of slums in Bhubaneshwar and has been associated with ‘Agragami’ on the issues of tribals.
The current range of interventions by SPREAD cover 13 villages of Lamtaput block of Koraput district, Orissa. Koraput district is located in the backward Koraput- Bolangir- Kalahandi (KBK) region of Orissa. The district has 49.73% scheduled tribes and 13.07% scheduled castes population as per the 2001 census. This district falls under the scheduled area and all the blocks are ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency) blocks. Net sown area is 27.3% of the total cultivable land and irrigated area is 15%. The forest cover is 21%. Literacy rates are also far below the State as well as national averages. Female literacy is only 24.72%. The tribal community has little or no political rights at all since the PESA 1996 has been diluted in the state. Moreover, since the settlements are situated in remote areas, accessibility to development schemes and other govt. services is difficult. There are 4 major irrigation projects in the district and thus regionally, displacement of tribals for acquiring land for constructing dams, mines, industry, cashew plantation by the corporation is common. This has totally ruined the cultural- economic and social base of the tribal society as non tribal communities have penetrated tribal society and started to gain control over the economic structure of the tribal society. Administration systems are not in favor of the tribals.
Children are involved in the household, agriculture and animal husbandry work. 10% children are bonded child labor. Unilateral education system in terms of same language and contents for all the community has created some discomfort among the tribal children to continue in the education system. Secondly the tribal community is not able to link this education process with their own way of livelihood for survival, therefore drop out after elementary school is very high. 45% children are malnourished and they are not getting proper nourishment. This is linked to the breakdown of tribal survival culture based on the forest and agriculture. In this backdrop, SPREAD intervenes to work with the underprivileged community as catalysts to build up their capacity and to facilitate a process of participatory development.
- To ensure access of tribal communities to health care and education entitlements as per government policies.
- Community mobilization through information dissemination and collective action with a view to enable participatory development.
- To study indigenous tribal cultures and enable collective action to preserve and protect indigenous knowledge, skills, culture and livelihood opportunities.
- To fight against child labor, bonded labor and development induced displacement.
- To enable informed decision making on development processes at community level.
Review and Impact
SPRED implemented education programs for three years to mobilize the community on education issues. The approach to change was based on the principles of building community capacity, collaborative alliances for access to local natural resources, influencing the state for enabling policy environment, creation and sustainable management of the resources by the people and ensuring redressal of immediate needs of the marginalized groups to enable them to sustain themselves and to fight for their rights.
Some of the major program highlights are:
- 110 new born children and 328 older child births were registered.
- Incidences of institutional deliveries increased through the review period.
- 92 out-of-school children were enrolled into government primary schools.
- Incidences of drop-outs of children from schools has been scaled down.
- Incidence of malnourishment among children scaled down from 50% to 45%.
- All identified child labourers and working children were linked with education programs.
- Mid-day meal program was effectively functioning in 7 government schools.
The organization is taking the initiative to expand the coverage area of Dungar Adhikar Sammittee (DAS) from one panchayat to adjacent panchayats. The process will link the DAS to other displacement forums in Koraput. The district chapter of the displacement forum also got involved with the state level displacement forum for getting their support and extending the efforts to a larger level. Going forward, SPREAD will focus on enabling collective action towards survival rights and development rights of tribal communities, awareness building on the Panchayat system and related policies and on networking with other collectives to fight for the rights of children.
- Children’s cultural convention, including exposure of children to the displaced colony of the region and discussion at the district level on tribal identity.
- Initiating community leadership building process among the youth and facilitating youth groups.
- Meeting at the gram panchayat level on quality education with education officials, teachers, Village Education Committees & Panchayats.
- Interface with gram panchayat Health officials and district officials for activation of health service.
- Community mobilization against child labor.
- Promotion and protection of traditional seed and grain banks.
- Action programs for getting the right over resources that the marginalized communities are entitled to.
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