Community Development

IMG_8330.jpgDespite having the highest income per capita rate in the state of Rajasthan during 2011, over 900,000 people in Udaipur remain under the poverty line. With limited livelihood opportunities and access to basic services and infrastructure, many people lack necessary resources to improve their socio-economic status. Increasing urbanization has further exacerbated the deterioration of the physical environment, consequently lowering the already poor quality of life of agriculture-based rural communities. JJVS believes that each individual has the potential to identify and address their development issues. With our grassroots democratic approach, we have positioned ourselves among the people so as to analyze social, economic, political and cultural factors and then inspire the community to prioritize these issues.

Approach and Community Outreach

The JJVS team is committed to equipping community members with the tools and knowledge base necessary for them to improve their livelihoods. Working directly with community members and using their local resources and knowledge, JJVS strives to customize project interventions to meet the needs of each and every community member. These sustainable and innovative solutions are created with JJVS grassroots support and accelerates the growth of entire communities. Impacting over 1.5 million people, JJVS acts as a catalyst in the eradication of poverty.

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Jagran has developed and has been working with the following Federations, Institutions, Committees and Groups in the working area:

Community Groups and Federations:

Ghatod Mahasangh- The Village Federation

Ghatod Mahasangh is a pan-village federation of self-help groups (SHGs). JJVS introduced this innovative concept in 1998 as the primary functional institution at the village level. The major goal the Ghatod Mahasangh is to unite grassroots-level village-based institutions so that they can form a larger voice in development initiatives. Other objectives of the federation are to stop the exploitation of people by local moneylenders, to help the groups during the drought periods, to encourage active leadership among communities, to provide financial aid when needed, to encourage extra income generation (especially for women), and to stop migration to the bigger cities.

Through the Ghatod Mahasangh, we have organized training programs and initiated new development schemes and income-generating projects for community members. Some examples include a loan for the establishment of a seed and grain bank, the creating of a fodder depot, the encouragement of cloth business and traditional medicine outlets, and various SHG trainings for spinning and weaving activities. We felt it prudent to structure the federation as an institution that achieves objectives in a sustainable and self-reliant way.

Presently, the Ghatod Mahasangh is overseeing our newest development project: microfinance lending, that has spread to villages all around the Jaisamand lake area. We strongly feel the microfinance program is proof of the Ghatod Mahasangh’s continued functionality, stability, and sustainability in village-level grassroots development.

Village Institutions:

With the poverty line at 32 rupees a day in urban areas and 26 rupees a day in rural areas for adults, 55% of Udaipur’s population remains impoverished and thereby unable to meet their daily food and living needs. Poverty is most prevalent among rural communities and 80% of Udaipur’s population lives in rural areas. To escape the cycle of poverty, our village institutions have accumulated 3.5 million rupees for family health, education, agriculture and social interloans – the equivalent of providing almost 13,000 community members their needs for a day.

Jhamari Bachao Andolan (JBA)

Jhamari Bachao Andolan, or JBA, is a community institution established to address issues related to mining and industrial pollution around the Jhamari river basin, a catchment of Asia’s second largest man made freshwater body, Lake Jaisamand. JJVS advocates for issues related to community rights for forests, land and water resources nearby Jhamari river. The community leaders, village elders, and representatives of local democratic bodies from 42 villages have been actively involved in local problem solving with government authorities.

Village Committees:

JJVS created the village development committee (VDC) for community management of village resources and development programs. The VDCs created a village fund called Gram Kosh in 49 villages from daily community contributions of millets. About 2.3 million rupees have been deposited in separate bank accounts of Gram Kosh.

Local Governance:

Local government village councils, Panchayats, lack financial autonomy, representation of marginalized communities, and timely government grants. This has lead to frequent suspension, supersession and dissolution of these bodies. Article 40 of the Constitution of India states that the State will organize Panchayats and provide them the authority to function as units of local self government. In practice, the crippling functionality of Panchayats prevents them from functioning as successful institutions of local self-government.

Gaon Ganrajya– Village Republic

Gaon Ganrajya promotes village self-leadership by strengthening local democratic bodies like the Panchayat. They also organize Gram Sabhas under the Panchayats Extension to the Schedule Areas (PESA) act, which have helped 2,500 households from 10 villages. Their initiatives have increased awareness of community advocacy to address problems related to land, water, forests, environmental pollution and displacement.

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