III Bhimudugudem, Khammam
As planned, we left for Khammam after the visit of West Godavari on 22nd November in the afternoon. As we approached the village, a plain clothed policeman, accompanied by several other people, stopped our vehicle. We had to state the purpose of our visit for study and research and assert our right as an Indian citizen to go to the village. The policeman stressed upon us to meet a local Police Officer on account of general alert for a person named Sarada.
- Accordingly, we approached the police officer who was waiting for us along with 10 police constables. Since I did not know Telugu, he did communicate with me in English. The police officer told Satya Sai that he knew SAKTI's antecedents and warned him to convey to Sarada not to enter Khammam. He further told us that it is because of Sarada Devi that police was finding it difficult to control tribals in the areas and maintain peace. He also said that it was because of her that he had to camp in the village since morning without food and water. Faced with this situation, we could not enter the village where a group of 100 tribals were waiting for a meeting.
- This reminds us of an empowerment process which is reflected in the following statements: "They fear ! what do they fear ? Why do they fear despite wealth and weapons? They fear! that .. Some day unarmed poor men and women will stop fearing them.
4.2. COSTAL ANDHRA DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PROGRAMME
After the 1986 Godavari floods and the 1990 hill stream floods SAKTI has taken up sand caste removal programme and helped tribals in agriculture by providing seeds with the support of OXFAM. After the Godavari floods and landslides in Ramavaram mandal in East Godavari , wherein seventeen tribals died, the organisation started working on conservation of forests and environment as it realized that deforestation was one of the main causes for floods.
Again, after the 1996 cyclone, the organisation has taken up relief and rehabilitation work along with development. The organisation has adopted an integrated approach on disaster preparedness and relief.
As part of Disaster Preparedness Program of Oxfam, SAKTI has also initiated contingency plan preparation, task force group formation, education and health services for the weaver community, construction of individual latrines and the promotion of thrift & credit groups. SAKTI manages treatment of minor ailments, referring chronic patients to hospital and arrange surgeries in the event of acute cases. The homeopathic treatment started by SAKTI gave complete cure the Filarial patients .
The review team visited two cyclone affected weavers' villages, and one dalit village and the following was observed:
i. Weavers Villages: Pullutikuru and Visavalli: Population 2200: houses: 300
We visited many post cyclone houses constructed by SAKTI and had discussion with a group of women who informed us about the disaster preparedness committee and other work undertaken by SAKTI in the area.
- SAKTI provided the Pulletuikuru and Vilasavalli villages with facilities such as water, sanitation, health as well as thrift and credit. There are 29 toilets in Pulletuikuru and two community toilets in Vilasavalli village. SAKTI constructed altogether 212 post cyclone houses in these two villages. SAKTI is the only organisation, which has introduced retrofitting houses in these two villages, in Andhra Pradesh. It had faced criticism from many quarters, including the then Oxfam staff, for initiating an untested technology. To day every disaster management plan talks about the retrofitting of houses! First one to follow and do it on larger scale was ARTIC, another partner of 'Disaster Preparedness Program'. It is reported that, now the Government of Andhra is also intending to use this technology for building houses for the weaker sections.
- SAKTI repaired 600 looms damaged in the cyclone in 6 villages including these two villages.
- About 22 women from the thrift and credit group of Pulletikuru village have taken advantage of loan under DWCRA scheme to be able to become less dependent on master weavers. At present the thrift and credit group in this village has Rs 10000 only.
- Many families suffering from filaria have been nearly cured through the organizations homeopathic interventions. Those who have not recovered fully are improving well.
- SAKTI also invited Beena Rao, a well-known designer from Creative Bee organisation, to help the weavers design the product as per the market demand. However, the effort did not succeed due to lack of regular commitment on the part of the designer.
- Loom pits were also constructed to protect the loom from rainwater.
- In order to protect the livelihood of weavers, an income-generating programme was taken up for the weavers. This included providing for working capital, yarn, marketing and weaving skill trainings and providing tools. This has improved the economic status of weavers. The weavers are getting Rs 1000 extra income per month. The organisation also supported the weavers to negotiate with the Government to revive defunct weavers cooperative.
- A disaster preparedness committee has been formed to take care of training, health, contingency plan, disaster funds etc. in the event of natural disasters.
II Dalit Village: Yelubanticheruvu: Population 800
We could not meet with many men and women in the village as this was harvesting season and people had gone to work on the field as agriculture labour. We could meet a group of children who informed us about SAKTI's programme in their schools on disaster preparedness and awareness.
- Different disaster preparedness teams have been formed in the village such as training, health, contingency plan, disaster funds etc. in the event of natural disasters.
- School children informed us of their knowledge about disaster preparedness due to the disaster preparedness training introduced in their schools. Among all the other CAP partners, this is a unique programme initiated only by SAKTI in India, The curriculum includes topics such as: causes of disasters both natural and man made; flood, cyclones, earthquake; importance of environment protection to reduce natural disaster; Importance of preparing contingency plan and task force groups; government accountability and action taken pre-disaster, namely warning people, shifting people to a safe place, storing food grains, kerosene, water etc. and identifying the most vulnerable groups such as children and the aged, and shifting them in the safe place first. About four hundred children from various schools have already undergone such training.
- Renovation of drinking water tanks to solve the drinking water problem of the villages. The govt has given matching grant from Neeru-Meeru scheme. SAKTI team informed us that similar programme have also been conducted in nine dalit villages.
- Taking up the issue of wasteland to be assigned to land less dalit communities.
5. Impact Assesment
The impact assessment is being discussed in terms of its impact on poor people, women and gender relations, sustainability and environment
5.1 Impact on poor people
- There is a definite economic gain to about 16000 landless bonded labours directly, belonging to 84 villages of three districts, viz., East Godavari, West Godavari and Khammam.
- 16000 tribals have been released from bonded labour due to the restoration of 23300 acres of land from the non-tribals. Although the rules do not allow sale of land, the cost of the released land, for the sake of valuation, can be estimated as Rs.233 crores. This has improved their quality of life in many ways. Now, they can get loans and subsidies from the government and banks against their assets.
- Due to the intervention resulting in enhanced price of palm fiber and correct weighing, nearly 4000 tribals have benefited. The increase of just Rs. two per kg has resulted in over all increase in profit by Rs. 960 per year for each tribal.
- By exposing the cases of bogus caste certificates acquired by Non-tribals to declare themselves as tribals, SAKTI has almost brought such practices to an end.
- About 4000 palm fibre producers gained through the price increase of fibre from Rs two to five. This was due to the palm market influencing done by SAKTI, in terms of rate fixing and weighing balances. This is a substantial gain for most tribals, as a typical family works for about 24 weeks during the season and sells about 20-25 kg of fibre per week. Thus, the overall gain to an average family works out to Rs 2400.
- Tribal youth, including women, are not only able to read the revenue land records and map but also able to prepare 'Field Measurement Book' on the basis of the map to identify actual land and area.
- There is a visible change in their life style in terms of improvement in quality of life including children's education, health, self-respect, knowledge base, decision-making and livelihood. This is due to securing land ownership, accessing land information and getting access to government schemes and being fearless.
- Dalit and weavers communities have been helped towards rehabilitation during and post cyclone breakouts. This has not only helped them save their life and livelihoods but also enhance their income, living conditions, health and housing.
- SAKTI's programme on disaster preparedness with children shows long-term sustainability and preparedness on disaster.
- Weavers skills have been upgraded to suit the market demands and this helps them to earn more.