A small beginning…….
To strengthen the civil society network in Koraput district for social mobilization with actively engaging the communities and providing support to the existing government programmes and mechanism and reaching out to the most marginalized sections of society; SOVA has succeeded in moving a step up to bring the community and the Panchayat level officials to a platform where planning, implementation and benefits go hand in hand.
Among the various innovative approach that SOVA has adopted in reaching the village community and making the information process more effective and accessible, Village Information Centre plays an important role. Since July 2009, SOVA in support of & District Administration has made all efforts on Institutionalizing communication interventions through the establishment and strengthening of Gram Panchayat Resource Centres (GPRCs) was an extension and consolidation of investment made in the Village Information Centres during initial stage Information Centres were established and able to collect information on various developmental schemes, provisions, entitlements and approach to behavioural reformation from the block office and disseminate it to the people. Though there were positive changes in information sharing yet accessibility of the developmental schemes and provisions was not so better. There was very low Involvement of the government officials in the process.
With the objective to increase information, access, and use of various government schemes and programs with the participation of communities especially who are most often excluded in implementation of development programmes related to child health, survival and development and inculcate ownership of the Panchayat level workers for sustainability of the process; SOVA with the partner organization (Network members), DPMU, Panchayat and block level government functionaries, district administration spent several brain storming sessions for the establishment of the Gram Panchayat Resource Centres (GPRCs). It would act as one of the information hub at Panchayat head quarter , provide services by providing application, forms and guideline on government scheme and establish linkages with front line worker (ASHA, AWW, ANM, Teacher, GRS(Gram Rojogar Sevak), PRI members, and other institution like GKS, SMC, and other grass root level CBOs.
Ultimately the District administration permitted SOVA in implementation of GPRC at “Rajiv Seva Kendra” of the Panchayat and to establish linkage with Panchayat and its functionaries to run the centre in all the 14 blocks. Now 50 Gram Panchayat out of 226 Panchayat have GPRC of which 29 numbers of GPRC are functioning at Panchayat building, Fifteen at Rajiv Seva Kendra and six are at community hall.
The approval of the district administration is a landmark decision as the changes that have been noticed thereafter in remarkable. 1670 nos. of community has accessed and used information available at GPRC with support in the identified 50 gram Panchayat. Improved coordination between government line departments and NGOs in the district and increased access to government programmes and services in identified villages have been noticed. There has been improved demand for quality of services and
change in positive behavior especially in the field of health care, social security schemes, education, nutrition and sanitation in the villages measured by increased coverage. Community engagement with Gram Sabha and Palli Sabha is a thing worth watching. Community members and SHGs have involved in village sanitation program in 305 numbers of villages and about 105 numbers of schools have developed hand wash practices in children. Besides the already existing regular immunization beneficiaries, there are reports of 337 numbers of below 1 year child for immunization from remote villages. Accessibility of the pension scheme that was once regarded as a most complicated and inaccessible scheme has now covered 185 people those who were deprived of the benefit for years. Even corporate house like NALCO has expressed its interest in scaling up the initiative in 18 GPs under their periphery.
The dream of SOVA in advocating for Community Mobilization and providing the community with all government benefits in collaboration with the existing government mechanism is likely to be fulfilled through GPRC. Thanks to the district administration for its trust in SOVA’s advocacy strategy. The success of the GPRC has interested the district administration in allocating work place and all possible supports for the grievance cell under the Samadhan scheme and Migration unit to ensure safe migration in the district of Koraput.