SEARCH FOR ACTION & KNOWLEDGE OF TRIBAL INITIATIVE
Review Report by:
Mukta Srivastava, Programme Officer
Oxfam GB in India - Hyderabad .
DATE : 20-25 November 2002
Chapter - 1
TOR for the Review
Oxfam GB's work in South India has gone through several changes over the past few months. Keeping in mind the strategic changes in Oxfam, we are in the process of reviewing our partnership in South India .
SAKTI and Oxfam cherish a long-term partnership. Thus in order to take decision for future partnership, we would like to review the programme supported by Oxfam. The review will include: 1. 'Tribal Empowerment Programme 2 . Coastal Andhra Disaster Preparedness Programme (CAP). This will also be an opportunity to learn from each other.
Components of the Review:
1. Impact of the programme in terms of
• Direct and indirect impact on the lives of poor men women and children.
• Gender sensitivity
• Environmental impact
• The extent to which the objectives have been achieved as a result of the project
• The extent to which other factors have influenced the results.
• A review of the results of the programme in relation to the resources used and time taken.
• To review utilisation of funds as per programme objectives & the budget allocated to the partner agency.
• Office Management
1. Secondary Material Review:
• Programme related documents:
• Finance and legal documents:
• Office management related Documents:
2.Field visits and meeting with the SAKTI team.
• Review of physical work
• Review Gender mainstreaming activities
• Community interaction and meeting
• Meeting and presentation by SAKTI team
• Visit the fields related to both CAP programme and "Tribal Empowerment Programme"
Process of review
• TOR to be shared with SAKTI team
• SAKTI to take care of Field related Logistics.
• SAKTI to produce the following documents at their Hyderabad Office:
A. Finance Related :
• Books of accounts,
• Budget, balance-sheet(s),
• Receipt and payments,
• Income and expenditure,
• FC-3, bank pass books,
• Utilisation certificate(s),
• Stock book,
• Other relevant documents
B. Programme Related:
• Progress reports
• Meeting registers, Village level documents, Tour reports, field workers diary, reports of meetings and workshops.
• Annual reports
• Other relevant documents
• Meetings with communities and individual members
• Group presentation by SAKTI staff about the progress of work done during the last five years
• Group as well as individual meeting with the SAKTI team vis-à-vis Oxfam review team.
• The draft findings to be shared with SAKTI team members.
The Review Team:
Ravindra Singh - Finance Officer, Oxfam GB
Mukta Srivastav- Programme Officer, Oxfam GB
Cheryl Xavier - Programme Support Oxfam GB (only for Finance review part)
P. Sharda Devi - Programme Co-ordinator, SAKTI
Date of Review:
• Field Visits: 20-21-22 of November 2002
• Finance review and meeting with office team: 23-24-25 of November 2002
Detailed Programme Schedule
Chapter - 2
To study the impact of the programme supported by Oxfam against the stated objectives.
- To review the financial management aspect of the programme over the past five years against the agreed allocations of resources.
- To ascertain the strategic-fit in view of the changes in Oxfam.
- Mutual learning.
The organisation : Search for Action and Knowledge of Tribal Initiative (SAKTI)
SCO (1.1) SAKTI, a local voluntary organisation now based in Hyderabad , has been working for tribal empowerment in East Godavari, West Godavari and Khamam Districts. It has been supported by Oxfam for the last 17 years, of which, for the last 8 years, Oxfam and BFW have jointly supported the organisation. However the funds have been managed by the respective organizations separately. The main objectives towards achieving the goal of tribal empowerment have been:
- Restoring the constitutional land rights of tribals
- Restoring the forest rights of tribals
- Introduction of community forest management while initiating steps towards protecting forest from illegal felling by private business interests
- Capacity building amongst the tribals so that they understand the land issues and acquire necessary skill to deal with government machinery for their land rights
- Gender mainstreaming
- Implementation of minimum wages in forest, roads and minor irrigation.
- To provide legal aids in other relevant areas
Apart from this, SAKTI also got involved in disaster preparedness and relief work of Oxfam soon after the Cyclone in 1996. A major cyclone hit the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in 1996. Oxfam GB responded with relief and rehabilitation with the help of SAKTI. Oxfam followed it with long - term disaster preparedness program in partnership with SAKTI and other NGOs with the following objectives:
- Build community assets and capacity towards reducing vulnerability of natural assets from natural hazards.
- Documentation and dissemination of programme learning and best practices in disaster preparedness for advocacy.
3. The Area:
The project covers the scheduled areas of East Godavari, West Godavari and Khammam districts. These areas are predominantly occupied by the tribal, surrounded by hills, and are remotely perched in the green part of AP. Resources are rich and land soil is quite fertile, thereby, increasing the value of land. As a consequence, high value tribal land has been prone to encroachment by non-tribals, notwithstanding legal safeguards. This has led to massive afforestation in the area by vested interests. The resultant conflict between tribals and non-tribals has led to the rise of Naxalite movement. Some of the areas have over the years become highly sensitive due to real politik of non-tribals, on the one hand, and Naxalites on the other.
4. Field Visits:
4.1: Tribal empowerment programme
During the field visit to Chinnimpalem village of East Godavari , Panduvarigudem of West Godavari and Bhimudugudem of Khammam, the following changes were visible:
i. Chinnapalem Village, East Godavari: population: 900
- Tribal families have benefited by getting legal pattas of lands belonging to them
- Most of the land-pattas had the photographs of women, as they were the main patta holders, though men held the second title. All the women brought their pattas to show us with a lot of pride and confidence.
- Although, it were women who came forward for meeting and discussion instead of men, the approach of SAKTI in East Godavari seemed more of a 'casework' kind than a collective process. According to the SAKTI team, being a first intervention area, this was a learning ground for them. The process was, therefore, initially case-based in East Godavari , which gradually became collective in other areas. Another reason for being case oriented was high rates of migration. It was observed during the visit that nearly 70 per cent of the men folk had migrated due to drought in Chinnapalem village.
- However, people came forward collectively for the restoration of the forest resources and embarked on a community-based struggle against a timber wood company. The collective effort fructified and the timber company forcing govt to withdraw wood supply from forests.
- All children were attending schools.
- Soapnuts, bamboo, neem and jackfruit were planted under community forest management as against monoculture and cash oriented plantation done by the forest departments.
- Women expressed their anger against the government move towards constructing a reservoir in the Suram Palem area, which will eventually lead to displacement of tribals from their lands. They were determined for a long-drawn struggle to protect their land or get compensated in terms of suitable alternatives. The Centre for Economic & Social Studies (CESS) commissioned by govt recommended for 242 houses, govt agreed to provide 167 houses only. SAKTI enabled the tribals to get rest of the houses by presenting the lapse before appropriate authorities
- ii. Panduvarigudem Village , West Godavari (including hamlets such as Tatiramannagudem, Rachannagudem, Srivarigudem, Cheenalavarigudem etc.): Population 3000.
A meeting of men and women representing 5 hamlets took place in the Cheenalavarigudem. Our overall observations from the visit and at this meeting are summed up below:
- The tribal houses were of better quality than what has been generally seen in the tribal areas of other parts of India . This was due to the awareness and access to government housing schemes.
- We observed a strong collective empowerment of women in the area when interacting with about 50 women representing five hamlets. These women were not only aware of their land rights but also had struggled to get land even at the cost of police repression. It was interesting to observe a woman leader, aged 50, enthusiastically narrating her struggle of land and police encounter in the form of a folk song with all other women joining in. The song ran this ' Rela-Rela re rela Ayo rela---Mnna ki bela Patwille police chi jallakoti Chandamama'. (in their native language)
- The village appeared empowered in terms of understanding the revenue maps and the status of their land. Some youth, including women, demonstrated as to how to read the map and identify their lands through maps. They informed the review team that they could deal with the MROs (Mandal Revenue Officers) and collectors due to their thorough understanding about the status of lands. Women were in the forefront here too. When enquired as to why so many women were in the forefront, we were informed by women that their men folk indulged in drinking and wasting away their time, besides being irresponsible enough to sell their land. Women therefore demanded to be the owners of the land. They also informed that they had collectively built enough clout to take on men who indulged in wife beating.
- In this meeting too, women showed their D'pattas ( the land title for cultivating the land and not for selling) of land with great pride and dignity. Many women had brought their pattas to show us but we could read only a few. Some of them even expressed confidence to be able to argue their land related cases in the courts.
- However, it was felt that there was a strong need to look into the gender relations and women's empowerment in terms of intra-household dynamics. Similarly there was a need to focus on the political empowerment of women through their membership in Panchayat bodies .
- The local community was seen to be taking very good care of forest resources such as cashew nuts, mangoes, jackfruits, bananas, tamarind etc.
- Children from this village were seen attending schools but the drop out rate after junior secondary levels was high . One reason for drop out was because grown up children were needed to work in fields. Such children, however, are being mobilised by SAKTI for capacity building towards land issues. This is a unique experiment towards imparting knowledge with regard to acquiring maps from the revenue departments, reading them understanding them and identifying the land encroached by the non-tribals both physically and through the maps. This not only empowers the tribal people in the economic sense but also develops their self-esteem. According to one of the youth, they have also helped non-tribals to read the land map.
- When enquired whether they were afraid of repression from police and administration, both men and women expressed that they had become more fearless now.
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.
5.2. Impact on Women and gender relations
- Women seem to be in the forefront of land struggle. Some of them can even argue the cases in the court. They are able to deal with government officials. The main title of the land is in their name. There have been some changes in the women's attitude and they now come out in the open for struggle.
- In the Coastal Andhra disaster preparedness programme too women are in the fore front be it thrift and credit programme, decision regarding building houses or task force group regarding disaster preparedness.
- SAKTI also provided training to women members of weaving communities to upgrade their skills in weaving. As a result, in contrast to ancillary jobs, women have now gained confidence in weaving saris with different designs. This has boosted their confidence and self respect.
- Although women were quite visible in the overall terms, there seems to be less focus on political empowerment of women at Panchayat level and the power relations in terms of intra-household dynamics. In case of intra House hold dynamics it was observed that women preferred sons to daughters. They also expressed the view that under stressful economic situation they will prefer sons' education over daughters', and take out daughters from the schools. Since the focus of their struggle was towards getting the land rights in their name, this aspect was not given much attention.
- SAKTI does not have women in their team except Sarada Devi, the Coordinator. The reason given by the team was the sensitive nature of the work, which forced many women to leave the organisation. The situation often led to several team members getting implicated in false cases and remanded to police custody. However, the review team has suggested the organisation to appoint more women staff, as well as enhance the gender equity.
5.3 Impact on Sustainability
- The programme is sustainable, as the capacity building process among the tribal communities has already been accomplished. Restoration of rich land to tribals and good cropping will lead to sustainability in terms of livelihoods of the tribal people. However, the legal battle for restoring the remaining land will require intervention of SAKTI.
- The advocates associated with SAKTI are reachable and available to the tribals and can be directly contacted. However, high costs involved in filing cases, does not seem sustainable if it has to be provided by grant money. Notwithstanding this, we must recognize that those judicial interventions will be a pre-requisite towards implementation of macro level policies and bringing about positive changes on the ground. Support for pending cases would therefore be critical.
- In the long run, however, land issues may have to be tackled in more effective manner through social movement than Public Interest Litigation. Collective empowerment process in Khammam may be more effective, though; it may lead to a lot of conflict between tribal and non-tribals on the one hand and between the State and tribals, on the other.
- Due to demand from the communities, SAKTI has been expanding its programme horizontally, which hinders the consolidation and scaling up process.
5.4 Impact on Environment
- Land restoration will definitely reduce burden on the forest for livelihood of the tribal communities and will lead to less exploitation of forest resources. Efforts towards stopping indiscriminate tree felling by timber companies and supporting NGO like Samata to file cases against mining etc. will lead to protection of the forests.
- SAKTI, as stated above, has been the pioneer in the work of restoration of lands and forest through judicial system. It has filed more cases related to tribal communities access to and control over forest and land resources, than those filed by even a national level organisation such as Narmada Bachao Andolan.
- The programme had to undergo several set backs during its implementation phase due to harassment by the authorities.
- Although the programme pertaining to land rights has been effective but the other programmes such as thrift and credit, and cattle rearing started by SAKTI have not yet yielded results.
- Regularity in implementation has suffered due to Naxalite problem in the area.
- The process of change would have been accelerated, if the approach was collective and movement oriented instead of legal casework-driven approach. It is therefore imperative that an overall capacity building is undertaken, with specific focus in the area of finance and field level efforts.