on the details of
47 villages in 10 Gram Panchayats of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India
Mr. Bhakta Purakayastha and Mr. Gopal Pramanik are the founders of SSDC. Having faced deprivation and hardships in their lives, they teamed up with some local youth to carry out social responsibilities. Sunderban Social Development Centre [SSDC] initiated its interventions in a small way in 1986 with the objective of upholding the dignity of the most vulnerable sections of the community through empowerment. Over the years, SSDC has performed rallies by women and children, street corner meetings, street theatres by children from the Kishore Kishori Bahinis and advocacy meetings with the PRI members and health departments in order to bring new public health services and activate the existing ones. In the year 2009-10, SSDC influenced the government machinery and the Department of Health to start the Ayushmati program in the whole of West Bengal, and extended the services to private hospitals and nursing homes in the district of South 24 Parganas.
The district of South 24 Parganas is located in the southern most tip of West Bengal and touches the Bay of Bengal. The sex ratio is 938 per thousand males. The population composition, which is the third highest among all the districts in West Bengal, reflects that 34% of the population is scheduled castes and only a minor proportion is from the scheduled tribes. In the operational villages muslim communities comprise of 45% of the reference group. There is lack of medicines, vaccines and staff in the available health care centers as well as absence of referral facilities and well equipped labor rooms in primary health centres. The region also faces a lack of infrastructure and poor quality of services and facilities. Schools are inadequate in number and substandard in terms of quality education, teaching and available infrastructure. All this leads to rising number of school dropouts. Agriculture is the main occupation however, the productivity is low owing to soil salinity and extensive rain. Majority of the women commute regularly to Kolkata to work as domestic help. This has adverse implications on the status of child rights in the area, especially protection rights of children. Domestic violence is a major problem in the area. Early marriages have been one of the main causes for infant and maternal mortality in the operational area. There is high infant and maternal mortality rates apart from the high incidence of common diseases. Child marriage, child labor and child trafficking are a recurrent problem in this region.
- To undertake programs for the deprived children through education and health support.
- To strengthen the community based organisation (CBO), i.e. Village Development Committees, mahila mandals and adolescent groups to mobilize the community.
- To facilitate the reactivation of government machinery through lobbying and advocacy.
- To form networks and collectives of NGOs and CBOs for alignment of perspectives and joint actions towards the realization of child rights in the area.
- To empower the community to demand their rightful entitlements in order to eradicate poverty.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
The present operational area is spread over 102 villages in 10 Blocks of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. However, in the year 2014-15, it has been decided that the team will focus more upon the Mandir Bazar block for its intervention. The the total number of operational villages are 47 with 4 operational blocks, 10 Gram Panchayats, 24 direct action focused villages and 23 direct action advocacy villages. SSDC is known as a credible organisation working in the area of health and nutrition in the district of South 24 Parganas. Despite the lopsided political status prevailing in the district, the team has been continuously striving towards ensuring the rights of the children. While on one hand, they have developed a set of active and vocal community groups who can question the adequacy and quality of services and seek due entitlements from the local government units through campaigns and other forms of collective action, on the other they have been focusing on awareness creation and knowledge building at the community level through street corner meets and street theatre. They have also built a strong network with other local NGOs as well as with elected representatives from the district. Major achievements in the review period include:
- Immunization and regular health check-up of pregnant women along with supplementary nutrition (regular monitoring, handholding and advocacy work) were carried out.
- Health & nutrition awareness and capacity building program for mothers and the community were carried out on knowledge, attitude and practice, while also bringing up nutrition/kitchen gardens in households & selected ICDS centers & public primary school.
- Demand raised for 17 new ICDS centres and 20 additional buildings (infrastructure) for ICDS centers.
- Strengthening of the KKBs, VDCs, GUS, Mahila Mandals and farmers’ groups on issues related to livelihood, nutrition and health (NRHM) and in ensuring greater participation in the panchayat and block processes apart from the alliance processes.
- Monitoring of schools in the realm of RTE (MDM, availability of teacher sufficiency, availability and use of education materials, infrastructure, water, health and sanitation).
- Reduction of child labor (tracking and intervention by VDC, mahila mandals and KKBs)
- Generating awareness & advocacy on child protection and availing legal support.
Miraj Molla, a 3-year-old child from West Bengal was found to be malnourished. The reasons were aplenty — starting from ignorance coupled with dire poverty faced by the family.
Miraj weighed a mere 6.8 kg and was in immediate need of support. CRY America supported partner SSDC heard about Miraj. They conducted regular home visits to his place and counselled the family members about the measures they need to take in order to ensure Miraj became a healthy child. They demonstrated ways of preparing nutritional food and spoke of the importance of providing supplementary feeds. They ensured he had access to quality health services.
These dedicated efforts had resulted in Miraj weighing a healthy 12 kgs today.
The team’s focus of intervention will continue on health, nutrition, education and child protection. The team will make effort for convergence in government bodies and departments and will also focus on implementation of RTE and build understanding on quality education, ECCE & child protection.
- Immunization and regular health check up for pregnant women along with supplementary nutrition. Linkages to be set up with ICDS, ANM and ASHA.
- Health & Nutrition awareness and capacity building program for mothers and community.
- Ensure 100% institutional safe deliveries, immunization and birth registrations.
- Enrolment and retention of children between 3 to 6 years in ICDS centres (Anganwadis).
- Facilitate the process of periodic advocacy with public health departments for strengthening programs and activation of services.
- Work towards ensuring 100% sanitation, safe drinking water and new toilets in households through Panchayats and establishing of new tube-wells at community level.
- Capacity building of community groups to be done on Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).
- To ensure functioning of and engagement with Juvenile Justice system.
- Formation and strengthening of children’s collectives and bring 265 more children in age group of 9 to 18 under child participation process.
- Advocacy to be done by children through theatre on health, education and protection.
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